Why Did Prigozhin's Plane Crash Now?
PLUS: Ukraine's independence day
Why did Yevgeny Prigozhin's plane go down on Aug. 23, two months after the failed mutiny? U.S. officials (and basically everyone else) believe the plane’s downing was directed by Putin. (There is one exception: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was an "absolute lie” that the Russian government was behind it.)
One obvious reason is that the Kremlin didn't appear in control on June 23: Prigozhin's tanks were able to roll into the Southern city of Rostov without meeting any resistance. Had Prigozhin been killed on that day, which Putin seemed set on doing if he reached Moscow and before Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenka engineered a deal, it might have caused a dangerous backlash from Wagner soldiers fresh off the battlefield in Eastern Ukraine who were coming into Russia. Many commentators have remarked that for Putin, "revenge is a dish best served cold," but I don't think such sayings fully explain the story.