Putin could kill again in 72 hours as fears of new Wagner mutiny soar

Wagner Group mercenary cries at shrine for Yevgeny Prigozhin

Vladimir Putin is poised to crush what remains of the Wagner group within the next “72 hours” as fears of a second mutiny spiral in the wake of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death, an ex-intelligence officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency has claimed.

The ex-DIA officer’s assessment comes after members of the notorious Wagner Group vowed revenge after Yevgeny Prigozhin was reportedly killed in a plane crash over the Tver region on Wednesday.

The Kremlin on Friday rejected allegations it was behind the plane crash that killed all 10 on board but it’s widely believed that Putin played a hand in the brutal warlord’s untimely death as payback for the mutiny he led in June that posed the biggest challenge to his 23-year rule.

Fearing a reprisal from other leaders in the mercenary outfit, Putin is likely to take swift and decisive action, Matt Shoemaker, former Intelligence Officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency tells Daily Express US.

“The good news for Putin is that he no longer has to worry about facing a palace coup from Prigozhin again,” the ex-DIA officer said.

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READ MORE: Putin has unleashed more than he realises with Prigozhin’s death

However, “the next 72 hours in particular will likely be critical to the remnants of Wagner as Prigozhin likely will not be the only former leader to meet an untimely end”, he said.

Mr Shoemaker continued: “Other lower-level Wagner leaders may very well wind up dead by ‘suicide’ or falling out windows but without making international headlines.

“While there is a chance Wagner could mount a response to the death of its leader, the likelihood they would succeed is bleak.”

Despite the odds stacked hugely against them, another Wagner-led mutiny is looking increasingly likely by the hour.

The “Mozhem Obyasnit” (We Can Explain) Russian Telegram news channel reported on Thursday that Wagner members are plotting to take revenge on Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu over Prigozhin’s reported death.

Other Telegram channels linked to the Wagner Group vowed to capture the Kremlin should Prigozhin’s death be confirmed.

The Kremlin rejected allegations it was behind a plane crash that is presumed to have killed mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who conducted a brief but shocking mutiny in Russia two months ago.

Prigozhin, whose brutal fighters were feared in Ukraine, Africa and Syria, was eulogized on Thursday in a televised address by Putin.

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However, his performance betrayed feelings of “success and confidence”, a body language expert told Daily Express US.

What’s more, a preliminary US intelligence assessment concluded the plane the Wagner chief was listed as a passenger on was downed by an intentional explosion and that the Russian President gave the order.

One of the US and Western officials who described the assessment said it determined that Prigozhin was “very likely” targeted and that the explosion falls in line with Putin’s “long history of trying to silence his critics”.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, did not offer any details on what caused the explosion.

But Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov flatly rejected the allegations.

“Right now, of course, there are lots of speculations around this plane crash and the tragic deaths of the passengers of the plane, including Yevgeny Prigozhin,” Peskov told reporters during a conference call.

“Of course, in the West, those speculations are put out under a certain angle, and all of it is a complete lie.”

The jet crashed Wednesday soon after taking off from Moscow for St. Petersburg, carrying Prigozhin, six other Wagner members and a crew of three, according to Russia’s civil aviation authority. Rescuers found 10 bodies, and Russian media cited anonymous sources in Wagner who said Prigozhin was dead. But there has been no official confirmation.

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