Putin Offers Condolences over Presumed Death of Wagner Chief Prigozhin in Jet Crash

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Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences over the presumed death of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash on Thursday. While acknowledging Prigozhin’s mistakes, Putin described him as a man who achieved results. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the crash, which occurred two months after Wagner’s failed rebellion against the Russian military leadership.

In a televised meeting, Putin extended his condolences to the families of the victims and referred to the incident as a tragedy. He also mentioned that Prigozhin had recently returned from Africa, where the Wagner group has a significant military presence. Putin assured that the investigation would be thorough and would bring about conclusive results.

Putin emphasized the significant contribution made by the Wagner members who died in the crash to Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, stating that their shared cause would not be forgotten. The crash has drawn reactions from Western leaders, with US President Joe Biden expressing doubts about the incident and France also raising concerns.

The plane crash occurred after Prigozhin led fighters to rebel against Russia’s top generals, criticizing their leadership in the offensive in Ukraine. The list of passengers onboard the plane, published by Russia’s aviation authority, included Prigozhin, his right-hand man Dmitry Utkin, and other Wagner mercenaries.

The plane was flying from Moscow to Saint Petersburg when it dramatically descended and crashed in the Tver region. Speculations about the crash initially suggested it could have been an assassination, but the investigation is ongoing to determine the cause. Some Wagner supporters gathered at the group’s headquarters to mourn the loss of their leader.

Prigozhin’s fate had remained uncertain after his rebellion was halted by a deal brokered with the help of Belarus, allowing him and his fighters to go into exile. The Kremlin had guaranteed that Prigozhin would not face criminal charges and would be allowed to live in Belarus. However, the fate of the remaining Wagner fighters in Belarus remains unclear.

The jet crash has sparked discussions and reactions both domestically and internationally, highlighting the complex and controversial nature of the Wagner group’s activities and its influence in various regions.

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