Experts: Prigozhin still has value for Putin
The double standards of Russian President Vladimir Putin in sparing the “traitor” Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin from the iron fist of the other dissidents, foremost among them Alexei Navalny, is raising controversy about the role of the head of mercenaries after a revolution against Moscow’s military leaders. Experts interviewed by CNN believe Chief Wagner still has value to Putin, even if the prestige of both has diminished.
“Prigozhin’s ingenuity with the Kremlin has clearly taken a hit,” said Candice Rondeau, director of Future Frontlines, an open-source intelligence service at the New America think tank. “But since Putin has lost more value since the rebellion, he seems to think there is some benefit left in keeping Prigozhin around.”
According to the expert, Prigozhin’s business acumen is an asset to Putin’s Russia, which has been hurt by Western sanctions. “Prigozhin’s shell corporate networks are Putin’s best insurance for preserving Russia’s wartime economy,” he said. “But it’s unlikely to stay that way forever — sometimes something has to give. And there’s a good chance that once that happens we’ll see more wonderful events near the Polish-Belarusian border.”
Prigozhin’s plans for weak and unstable countries in Africa should also not be underestimated, where mercenaries are already involved in Sudan, the Central African Republic and Libya. Prigozhin has also made no secret of his interest in the opportunities available in Niger after the last chance Military coup threatened to provoke a major regional crisis. In a telegram, the founder of the mercenary group hinted that Wagner might be willing to offer her services there.
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