Did Yevheny Prigozhin and the Wagner PMC company die in the plane that crashed over the Tver region of Russia on August 23, or were they not there... Now it is not so important. It seems that Russia's "false Yevgeny" is guaranteed in any case. And this means a new turmoil for Russia, as in the 17th century during the time of the false Dmitry. After all, the same "false" was then and will now be only a pretext for turmoil, and its cause is the incurable disease of the state, the Russian Federation in the 21st century.
However, we are interested in something else: is this story a "plus", "minus", or "neutral" for Ukraine, and what further consequences should we expect?
"When I am asked "Who do you root for in the confrontation between Prigozhin and Shoigu?", I always answer that I root for both teams - the frog loves the viper. Any internal "notch" between the pillars of the Kremlin regime naturally plays into our hands - let them all gnaw at each other's throats there," Pavlo Lakiychuk, head of security programs at the Center for Global Studies "Strategy XXI", comments to Ukrinform.
He says it was not difficult to predict Prigozhin's liquidation.
"But predicting the consequences of the elimination of the Wagner top brass is another puzzle. I think that the Kremlin organizers of the "retaliation action" did not calculate all the options," added Mr. Lakiychuk.
Political analyst Ihor Reiterovich believes that Prigozhin's murder is unlikely to lead to a rebellion or civil war in Russia: "After all, the Wagner military company, as a separate unit to make certain decisions, actually no longer exists. Therefore, we will be talking about finishing off and dispersing this PMC. After that, it will leave political and military life."
However, we should expect an increase in confrontation among the various elites in Russia.
"Everyone understands perfectly well who is behind Prigozhin's murder. This is how the Russian authorities showed that no agreements are worth anything. Everyone is responsible for themselves. Therefore, the turbulence within the Russian political elite will increase even more, and the settling of various scores will become widespread," the political scientist believes. - "This story unleashes the hands of some groups. They will begin to clear space for further maneuvering more aggressively and think about the transition of power. That is, about Putin's departure and someone else coming to power. In this context, the confrontation and war will intensify."
We will see the consequences of this war in the form of further terrorist attacks against individual representatives of the so-called military and political elite of the Russian Federation. We will also see the strengthening of certain individuals. For example, Kadyrov. He will allow himself to make statements that he has not made before.
"The internal struggle within the Kremlin towers will be much tougher. This will clearly not contribute to the normalization of the situation in Russia. On the contrary, it will be a destabilizing factor that will further benefit Ukraine to end the war and win. So this is definitely a plus for us," Mr. Reiterovich said.
Oleksandr Kovalenko, a military observer at the Information Resistance group, admits that Prigozhin's liquidation was somewhat unexpected.
"When I was asked about the fate of the leader of the Wagner PMC after the failed 'march on Moscow', I always answered that he would not be killed immediately, but after some time, for example, in six months. As you can see, I was wrong, it happened much earlier," the analyst says. - "Moreover, I expected that his murder would be disguised as a heart attack. The Russian special services have enough poisons of various nomenclatures that can simulate natural cardiac arrest. Instead, no one bothered with the elimination of Prigozhin, everything happened quite primitively - they shot down his plane with air defense forces and even in their airspace. That's the first thing."
Second, what does this change? According to the military expert, nothing internally for Russia.
"Have the Wagnerites become more active? No. They had to react to the assassination of the leadership as quickly as possible, on the first day. They overslept... Instead of organizing violent actions, burning down military units of the Russian Guard, and so on, we just saw a lot of hype and comments about some kind of revenge. And that was it. The process has not moved on. Therefore, I think that there will definitely be no "march on Moscow 2.0". "The Wagnerites have once again "swallowed," emphasizes Mr. Kovalenko.
As for the likely consequences for Ukraine...
"Most likely, the Wagnerians will be integrated into the Russian armed forces, i.e. they will be forced to sign contracts. Therefore, I do not even rule out the possibility that they will return to the combat zone in the near future, but as contractors of the Russian Armed Forces. For us, of course, this is not the best option, because our guys will have more work to do in the combat zone to dispose of the enemy's meat. However, in general, the elimination of Prigozhin and Co. is good news for Ukraine, because war criminals have been destroyed," said Oleksandr Kovalenko.
Military expert Mykhailo Samus says that we are now witnessing the next act of a play called "the collapse of the Russian Federation," the open phase of which began after Prigozhin's arrest on June 23 this year.
"The processes of destruction of the Russian Federation, which sometimes go on covertly, and sometimes - extremely demonstratively, as in this case, continue. Russia is no longer a state, it is a failed state with mafia structures that openly use the army to shoot down competitors' planes. Even under Stalin, there was at least an imitation of a state. And here we don't even have that. Therefore, at the strategic level, this is definitely a plus for Ukraine, a positive development. The system is self-destructing, it has many shortcomings and vulnerabilities, and we can and should use this to our advantage. Obviously, this action will soon cause another action. These are the laws of physics," Mr. Samus says.
As for the future of the so-called Wagner PMC...
"Why so-called? Because there are no PMCs in Russia at all - neither in the legal field nor in any other guise. This is the first thing. Secondly, apart from Wagner, there are about 40 other similar structures in Russia. And all of them are absolutely integrated into the system, under the wing of either the FSB, the GRU (military intelligence), or the Ministry of Defense. That is, their alleged privacy and independence from the state is a media "fake", nothing more. And thirdly, structures affiliated with Shoigu (the Defense Ministry) will take over all of Prigozhin's business in Africa. At the same time, the Wagner militants will be faced with the fact: either come under our control or simply be physically destroyed."
As for some of the Wagnerites who are currently in Belarus, the expert believes they will receive the same signal and will be sent either to Africa or some other region, or they will be transferred to Ukraine, forcing them to sign a contract with the Russian Defense Ministry.
"They will no longer have any special preferences, as they did under Prigozhin, they will become part of the structure, its "cannon fodder," emphasized Mykhailo Samus.
Diplomat Vadym Triukhan made three points about all this.
The first is that there is no 100% certainty that the plane that crashed was occupied by the Wagnerian elite, including Prigozhin.
"Knowing the latter's skill in "trying on" different images (the relevant photos have long been "walking" [the web], we can assume that this is a pre-planned special operation with a lie-in."
The second thesis is that if Prigozhin and his associates are really dead, this means two things.
"First, Putin has shown his inner circle that he does not forgive disobedience and disgrace. And Prigozhin, as you know, greatly disgraced Putin with his "march on Moscow," the expert says. - Secondly, through the elimination of Prigozhin, the dictator sent a message not only to his inner circle, but also to all those who dare to oppose him, call for the fight against his regime, and so on. In other words, he made it clear that those who disagree will face a swift and brutal reprisal."
The third thesis concerns the consequences for Ukraine directly.
"The Wagnerites left Bakhmut almost as soon as they entered it, realizing that holding the city was an absolutely unrealistic task. Moreover, Wagner has not played any role at the front for a long time. At least for the last two months. So even if they try to send the Wagner people in Belarus back to the front, it will change absolutely nothing for Ukraine."
Finally, Alina Frolova, the Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine in 2019-20, suggests that the liquidation of Prigozhin will not have significant consequences, because all these so-called "fighters" of the Wagner PMC will either be integrated into the existing Armed Forces or into other private military companies. And if they become too active, they will probably be eliminated.
"I would not say that they are disenfranchised, because it is not about people's desire to save themselves, but about the desire to kill and acceptance of such a system. Therefore, the elimination of Prigozhin is a purely aesthetic pleasure, if it happened. But it is unlikely that this will have a significant impact on the front line and on the events taking place at the front," she summarized.
Myroslav Liskovych, Kyiv