Russia-Ukraine: Two years of war
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2023 game changers that weren’t

What we thought would stir up the political landscape in 2023… but didn’t.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Putin breaks his silence on Prigo

Almost 24 hours after the plane presumed to be carrying Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin exploded midair outside Moscow – presumably killing him and Wagner’s top military commander Dmitry Utkin – Vladimir Putin has broken his silence. On Thursday, the Russian leader sent his condolences to the families of the 10 people killed in Wednesday’s massive explosion.

(For more on Prigozhin’s failed June mutiny, which brought him on a collision course with his boss, see our explainer here.)

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Russian mercenary Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in military gear.


Wagner's Prigozhin presumed dead

A private aircraft reportedly carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group warlord who launched a failed mutiny against the Kremlin back in June, has crashed outside Moscow, killing all 10 aboard, according to Russian state media.

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency says it is investigating the cause of the crash in the Tver region north of Moscow, which happened 30 minutes after the jet, headed for St. Petersburg, took off. Moscow says that Prigozhin’s name was included on the passenger list.

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Wagner fighters deployed in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.


Have Wagner fighters gone rogue inside Russia?

Since late June, when Russia’s Vladimir Putin cut a deal with Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to end his mutinous march on Moscow, it has remained unclear who the remaining thousands of Wagner fighters will take orders from. That deal included a promise of safe passage for Prigozhin and some of his troops to Belarus, but that country’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, has never claimed to control their operations there.

Six weeks later, it’s still unclear.

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Wagner Group guards are seen around CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera during the referendum campaign in Bangui.

REUTERS/Leger Kokpakpa

Wagner to guard CAR referendum

On Sunday, the Central African Republic holds a referendum on its new constitution, which (surprise!) removes presidential term limits. With violence all but assured, the vote will be protected by the army ... and a bunch of foreign mercenaries from a group that's become a household name.

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Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin.


Prigozhin watch: it gets weirder

Just five days after Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin led his mutinous march towards Moscow, Vladimir Putin met with him and 35 of his lieutenants at a secret Kremlin meeting.

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Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin leaves the headquarters of the Southern Military District amid the group's pullout from Rostov, Russia.


Where the heck is Yevgeny Prigozhin?

Thirteen days and counting – that’s how long it’s been since anyone has seen Yevgeny Prigozhin in public. After he led an armed mutiny up 500 miles of highway toward Moscow two weeks ago, the Kremlin announced that the Wagner Group leader would be permitted to go into exile in Belarus. But on Thursday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced that Prigozhin had flown to Russia. “Yevgeny Prigozhin is in St. Petersburg … Maybe he went to Moscow or some other place. But he is not in Belarus,” he said.

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Wagner PMC founder Yevgeny Prigozhin leaves a cemetery before the funeral of a Russian military blogger who was killed in a bomb attack in a St Petersburg cafe, in Moscow, Russia.

REUTERS/Yulia Morozova

How popular is Yevgeny Prigozhin in Russia?

A new poll by the independent Levada Center in Moscow shows support for the warlord plummeted in the days after his failed putsch last weekend.

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