Whatever else, Yevgeny Prigozhin is an interesting man.
Almost everything the Controlled Media disdains in him seems to this correspondent rather daring.
Oh, he spent time in prison? Well, so do a lot of people…and a lot more do not who should be there.
Oh, he ran a hot dog stand to get back on his feet? Except, there is nothing amusing about honest labor.
Oh, he has a certain bluster in his language? But, at least one can say he is never boring.
From his life story what we see is a man who made some mistakes (like most of us), took humble employment to struggle his way back (like many of us), then found a path outside The System to succeed (like the best of us).
Not knowing the individual it is hard to judge his character; knowing the biography it is hard not to be impressed.
One of the better passages in the book On the Road by Jack Kerouac features a young drifter approached for an unsavory purpose. Rather than react violently the youth responds with braggadocio which causes his pursuer to take flight. Having done so the protagonist turns toward his friend to explain all such figures flee when you offer them what they claim to want.
It was a literary interlude come to life when on February 6, 2023, a video appeared of Prigozhin in the cockpit of an Su-24 bomber where he promptly offered to better King Zelensky in single combat.
Not only that, but a time and place was called — Next Day. Over Bakhmut. Mano a Mano. In fighter jets.
"I will fly a MiG-29. If you so desire, let's meet in the skies. If you win, you take Artemivsk (Bakhmut's Soviet-era name). If not, we advance till (the River) Dnipro.”
The response from King Zelensky, in his Combat Cosplay, who claims he wants to clash? Callow silence.
The reply from Controlled Media? At least one "unbiased” British news network called it "asinine”.
The reaction from ordinary people? After half a year of battling for Bakhmut…why not?
While perhaps not the first thing to come to mind when nearing the anniversary of the Ukraine Conflict, the concept of two men meeting for a Duel of Honor is not as far-fetched as it may seem.
There are, after all, historical precedents.
True…most are literary or apocryphal…and it is dubious whether many were the final word on the fights…but there have been instances in the past when fates of empires were decided by a solitary blow.
— John Smith (yes, THAT one) — This figure will be well-known to many an American as Founder of the Jamestown Colony. He was also rather famously a success with the ladies, or at least with Pocahontas, the Indian girl whose infatuation saved him being executed by her father.
Less well-known? Before setting sail for the New World our man was a mercenary in the Old World; specifically fighting the Turks in Transylvania. At the Siege of Alba Iulia in 1602 a Muslim demanded a Christian to duel…Smith accepted and promptly beheaded him. Afterward he was challenged again — this time with pistols — and won. Finally called out once more — with battle-axes — John was victorious.
For these dashing deeds Smith was given a Knighthood…and a Coat of Arms with three severed heads.
— Robert the Bruce — During the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 a Scottish army led by Robert the Bruce was fighting for its independence. On the very first day of encounter a knight from England, Henry de Bohun, charged opponents on his steed with intent to kill the Scotch monarch.
Robert had an axe. Bohun an imposing horse and strong lance. As the two armies witnessed the struggle it seemed to all Bohun would be the victor…until at a crucial instant Robert evaded an attack with a parry of his own which not only split the head of Bohun but was so fierce it broke the axe itself.
— Prince Mstislav — As son of Vladimir the Great, in 1022, Mstislav was a conqueror of many lands and peoples which he did as a means to spread Christianity. Eventually he came upon Rededya, Prince of the Circassians, a nation whom he confronted at length.
Eventually Rededya suggested a Duel of Single Combat to limit the destruction. They agreed to wrestle for the Kingdom. After many hours Mstislav appeared on the precipice of failure…until he prayed to The Virgin to grant him victory with an additional vow to build a church in Her honor. Accordingly, Mstislav won the match, later fulfilling his promise by establishing the promised structure.
Returning to contemporary times, the Battle of Bakhmut commenced August 1, 2022, and as of February 16, 2023, is ongoing.
It has been described as a melee within a maelstrom by the West and where "every house is a fortress” by Prigozhin himself.
Economic costs are nearly incalculable. The closest metric is that thousands of 122 m shells and 155 m shells are being fired every day. Generally a single 122 m shell costs around $400 while a 155 m shell rates between $1,000 and $3,500 each. Consequently, at minimum every day $1,000,000 is spent in this very limited fashion…to say nothing of other tremendous outlays of expense in various forms.
The casualty figures are unreliable to say the least but clearly are in the tens of thousands combined.
By contrast, a used MiG-29 plane fully loaded with ammunition is $8 million…and either death would be isolated.
How can any argue it "asinine” to thus reduce the destruction witnessed over this period?
On the contrary, the Duel Combat seems eminently logical by comparison.
As for Yevgeny Prigozhin in terms of a personality there are as many opinions as people online.
So be it — let them have their notions on his biography, occupations and whatever else.
The vital aspect is what Progozhin is doing in this moment — and no less how King Zelensky responds.
Despite dueling views on the Russian adventurer, his offer of two men deciding things among themselves singularly makes sense.
Guy Somerset writes from somewhere in America
The Russian forces destroyed a column of NATO armoured vehicles that had been delivered to the Ukrainian army.