CIA director William Burns predicted last month that Putin might not be done with Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Prigozhin led a short-lived coup against Russian military leaders exactly two months ago.
On Wednesday, Russian media outlet TASS reported that Prigozhin was a passenger on a crashed plane.
CIA Director Bill Burns predicted last month that Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin probably hadn't seen the last of Vladimir Putin's wrath after the warlord staged a failed coup against the Kremlin.
"Putin is someone who generally thinks that revenge is a dish best served cold," Burns said at an annual security forum in Aspen. "In my experience, Putin is the ultimate apostle of payback so I would be surprised if Prigozhin escapes further retribution for this."
Russian state media outlet TASS reported on Wednesday that Prigozhin was a passenger on a plane that crashed in the Tver region right outside of Moscow. All ten people on board the flight are reportedly dead.
Prigozhin — who once earned the nickname "Putin's Chef" after the Russian President began eating at his restaurants and giving his catering business government contracts — had publicly criticized the Kremlin and Russian military leadership for their botched war plans in Ukraine, including apparent misuse of Wager mercenaries.
The feud between Prigozhin and Russian higher-ups came to blows in late June, when Wagner launched a failed mutiny against Russia's military leadership in late June, with Prigozhin marching his mercenary troops toward Moscow.
But the coup was short-lived when Prigozhin appeared to make a sudden reversal, ordering his troops to turn back and stand down. A deal was then brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, which involved Prigozhin being exiled to Belarus while his troops could either join him, quit, or join Russian military ranks.
Since then, Prigozhin's whereabouts and standings with both Russian military leadership and Putin himself have been all over the place. He attended an in-person meeting with Putin and other Wagner commanders five days after the mutiny and then was spotted in Russia while he was supposed to be in Belarus. He attended a critical summit with African leaders in late July and then announced plans for the future of Wagner in a video likely from his Belarus camp days later. Then, the Belarusian government moved to have exiled Wagner mercenaries train Belarusian soldiers, a role previously fulfilled by Russia's military.
Just earlier this week, Prigozhin resurfaced in a video purportedly filmed from somewhere in Africa, where Wagner has long had a presence as a mercenary organization for African leaders and governments. They've reportedly committed a variety of atrocities, including killing hundreds of civilians.
If Prigozhin is dead, it's now unclear what the future of Wagner looks like and what — if any — of their operations will continue.
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