The downed Russian jet carried Wagner’s hierarchy, from Prigozhin’s No. 2 to his bodyguards

by Gabriel Martinez
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Mercenary Group

The Russian plane that crashed carried an assortment of individuals closely associated with the Wagner mercenary group, revealing a glimpse into its hierarchy and connections. Among the passengers were notable figures, including the second-in-command, who had adopted a pseudonym that became synonymous with the group. Also present was the logistics chief, a fighter previously injured in U.S. airstrikes in Syria, and potentially a bodyguard.

Conspicuously, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Wagner and a figure who had led a brief uprising against the Russian military in June, was on board. This occurrence raised questions, as it was unusual for several high-ranking individuals, labeled as traitors by the Kremlin, to travel together on a single flight. The intention behind this journey remains enigmatic.

Lou Osborn, an expert and author, criticized the decision to assemble such senior figures on one flight, citing the necessity for key personnel to travel separately. Osborn speculated that Prigozhin’s overconfidence might have driven this decision, possibly due to a misguided sense of being pardoned or invulnerable.

The common belief that Utkin was the founder of Wagner has been dispelled, with analysts now asserting that this was a cover for Prigozhin’s actual leadership. Utkin, a retired special forces officer and member of the GRU military intelligence service, was in charge of command and combat training. He was linked to Wagner through various investigations, despite President Vladimir Putin’s earlier denials of any government affiliations.

Valery Chekalov, associated with another company under Prigozhin, managed mercenaries and oversaw various operations in Syria and Africa. Chekalov’s responsibilities also included organizing Prigozhin’s travel arrangements.

Yevgeny Makaryan, a Wagner member wounded in a U.S. airstrike in Syria, remained a commander within the group. His exact role, however, remains relatively obscure. Limited information is available about the other Wagner fighters on the manifest, such as Alexander Totmin, Sergei Propustin, and Nikolai Matuseiev. At least one of them had fought in a unit that later became a source for Prigozhin’s personal bodyguards.

While the identities of the flight crew were less known, it consisted of a pilot, co-pilot, and flight attendant. The tragic crash has drawn attention to the intricate hierarchy and affiliations of the Wagner mercenary group, shedding light on its internal dynamics and connections to influential figures.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mercenary Group

What is the significance of the crashed Russian jet’s passenger list?

The passenger list of the crashed Russian jet provides valuable insights into the hierarchy and key figures of the Wagner mercenary group.

Who were some of the notable individuals on the passenger list?

The list included Wagner’s second-in-command, logistics chief, fighters wounded in Syria, and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group.

Why is the composition of the passenger list raising questions?

The presence of several high-ranking individuals labeled as traitors by the Kremlin on a single flight suggests a breach of security and raises queries about the purpose of their trip.

What was the reaction of experts to this situation?

Experts, such as Lou Osborn, criticized the decision to have senior figures on the same flight, stating that key personnel should travel separately to ensure security.

How was the founder of Wagner previously misidentified?

Utkin was long believed to be the founder, but recent analyses point to Yevgeny Prigozhin’s actual role as the leader behind the scenes.

How was Utkin linked to the Wagner group?

Utkin, a retired special forces officer and member of the GRU military intelligence service, was responsible for command and combat training.

What government affiliations did Wagner deny having?

Despite earlier denials, Wagner’s connections to the Russian government were evident, as indicated by Utkin’s presence in a Kremlin reception video.

Who was responsible for managing mercenaries and operations?

Valery Chekalov managed mercenaries, secured weapons, and oversaw operations in Syria and Africa, also handling Prigozhin’s travel arrangements.

What was Yevgeny Makaryan’s role within the Wagner group?

Yevgeny Makaryan, wounded in a U.S. airstrike, remained a commander within the group, although his exact role remains unclear.

What does the crash highlight about the Wagner group?

The crash underscores the complex hierarchy, affiliations, and connections of the Wagner mercenary group, drawing attention to its internal dynamics.

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