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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


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International Insight: Prigozhin’s pride and downfall

Sindhuja Pannuri
From Europe to Asia, South America to Africa, and all the way to Australia, Wingspan staff reporter Sindhuja Pannuri provides her insight on international events in this weekly blog.

DNA analysis confirmed that the leader of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, died in a plane crash on Sunday. Once a key military leader in the Russian-Ukrainian War, many speculate that Prigozhin’s death was no accident and that the Kremlin ordered it. Regardless of how he died, the impact of Prigozhin’s life and activities on international affairs cannot be understated. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin, often referred to as “Putin’s Chef” due to his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was a man of many interests and enterprises. Born in 1961, Prigozhin’s early life and career were marked by obscurity. However, his ascent to prominence began in the late 1990s when he ventured into the catering business and quickly secured lucrative government contracts, including those for the Kremlin.

Prigozhin’s most infamous venture was the creation of the Wagner Group, a private military company operating in various conflict zones worldwide. Although officially disavowed by the Russian government, the Wagner Group was widely believed to have close ties to the Kremlin.

The Wagner Group gained notoriety for its involvement in conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, and other hotspots. Its mercenaries were often accused of human rights abuses and war crimes. The group’s actions sparked international outrage and condemnation.

When Putin declared war on Ukraine in 2022, the Wagner Group was one of the main mercenary groups that carried out Russian orders. Prigozhin even hired convicts out of prison to join his group and help fight in the war. They worked closely alongside the official Russian military in attacking Ukraine and were critical in the takeover of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

However, Prigozhin felt as if Wagner’s troops were being heavily undersupplied by the Kremlin. During the fight for Bakhmut, Prigozhin repeatedly denounced the Russian defense establishment for inadequately handling the war and denying weapons and ammunition to his forces. He continued to release social media content in which he condemned the Kremlin for mismanagement.

Eventually, these complaints came to a head when Prigozhin called for a mutiny in June 2023. He called it not a coup, but a “march for justice”. Wagner troops marched from the territory they held in eastern Ukraine and entered the Russian urban center of Rostov-on-Don. From there, they proceeded along the primary highway on their way to Moscow. Spectators were certain that the Kremlin and Wagner Group were going to be locked in a violent conflict. However, as the Wagner convoy advanced northward, reports emerged of an unusual arrangement mediated by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

Putin called the rebellion treason and wished to punish Prigozhin for his actions but agreed to a resolution in order to “avoid bloodshed and internal confrontation with unpredictable results.” The outcome of this mutiny is that Prigozhin and his troops were expelled to Belarus, where they continue to train at a military camp. The trust between the Kremlin and the Wagner Group is broken, and U.S. military intelligence says there are probably no Wagner troops left fighting in Ukraine.

So what now? The Wagner Group is forced out of Russia, and two short months later, their leader is killed in a plane crash. Although Prigozhin is no longer around to lead, his mercenaries are. There have been reports of Wagner in Africa, protecting supply lines and fighting ISIS. Whatever the future holds, it might be safe to assume that the Wagner Group is no longer fighting for Russia – only themselves.

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About the Contributor
Sindhuja Pannuri, Staff Reporter
Sindhuja (Sindhu) Pannuri is a senior entering her second year of Wingspan staff. At school, she is captain of the varsity debate team and President of Youth and Government. In her free time, she reads books to escape reality and enjoys boxing in the ring. She’s so excited for what this year will hold!

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