Political and business experts say that in one breath misfortunes and mishaps throw up challenges and pains and in another breath, they throw up opportunities and gains.

What then comes up for consideration is the nature, consequence and beneficiaries of the challenges and pains, as well as the opportunities and gains.

As such, recent developments around the famed Russian Wagner mercenary group come into focus, regarding the possible consequences, gainers and losers.

After carrying out a genetic test, Russian investigators have confirmed that Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was among the 10 people killed when their plane crashed Wednesday.

Prigozhin, who led a failed uprising against the Kremlin few months ago, had previously been named as one of those on board the private plane, which crashed in a field northwest of Moscow while en route to St. Petersburg, but until now authorities had stopped short of confirming he died, CNN reports.

“As part of the investigation of the plane crash in the Tver region, molecular genetic examinations have been completed,” a statement published on the Russia’s Investigative Committee’s Telegram channel read.

“According to their results, the identities of all 10 dead were established, they correspond to the list stated in the flight sheet,” it said.

Authoritative BBC sources believe Wagner was so heavily integrated in the defence infrastructure of African countries that their operations would be untroubled by Prigozhin’s death.

“The commanders stationed in Syria, or Central African Republic or Mali, they already have very good models in place there and they have the freedom to act,” they said.

“Local commanders are not impacted because the operations are separately operational, they have different resources for this and even now they are recruiting for Syria and Africa operations.”

They said the group’s arms-length relationship with Russian intelligence would remain a valuable tool for Moscow, allowing it to operate in the “grey zone” where it could pursue Russia’s interests, but allowing officials to deny involvement.

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They told the BBC that Wagner was “essential in Africa” in terms of promoting Russian interests. “The structure will certainly continue to exist there, perhaps no longer under the name of Wagner, but with a new head loyal to the Kremlin,” he said.

In recent days Prigozhin is believed to have been present in West Africa, where Western analysts fear the group was seeking to wide its reach into other countries, including Niger where a coup has just taken place.

Some had speculated that the decapitation of the group’s leadership could force Russia to re-evaluate its attempts to seek influence in the region, but many experts believe the group’s de-centralised command on the continent should allow it to continue its operations unhindered by Prigozhin’s death.

International politics watchers have said military-ruled Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea’s recent declaration of support for the coup in Niger and defiance of the ECOWAS objection was a direct evidence of the power of Russia and its strength and disposition, working through the Wagner mercenary group.

The listed countries had in a joint statement warned that any military intervention against Niamey would be considered a declaration of war against their nations.

“Any military intervention against Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali,” they warned, adding that such a move could result in “disastrous consequences” that “could destabilise the entire region”.

The long and short of these developments is that Russian strongman, Putin will tend to have a stronger and more independent hold on the Wagner Mercenary Group in Africa and use them more freely following the death of their erstwhile belated leader who showed some independence and somewhat constrained Putin’s will.

The Wagner Group under Putin’s influence has clearly displayed their intent to become unscrupulous, thieving and warmoonging kingmakers and exploiters on the continent. They must be checked by the African leadership.

It is sad that there is little indication from the ECOWAS Group so far of an abiding will and plan to deal with this threat.

Quote: The Wagner Group under Putin’s influence has clearly displayed their intent to become unscrupulous, thieving and warmoonging kingmakers and exploiters on the continent