Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged the presumed death of Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin saying that he had “made serious mistakes in his life.” The Wagner Group attempted to stage a coup against Putin back in June.
As Putin broke his silence over the horrific plane crash believed to have killed Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and his co-founder Dmirty Utkin, Western forces debated the possible causes of the incident.
It still remains unclear exactly what happened to the plane which went down approximately 100 miles from Moscow on Wednesday.. Earlier on Thursday anonymous US officials said they believed it had been caused by a surface-to-air missile.
But a statement issued by the Pentagon on Thursday evening all but ruled it out.
The Mail Online reports: The US Department of Defense said there was currently no information to suggest that a surface-to-air missile took down the plane presumed to be carrying Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, offered no further details or evidence as he made his remarks at a Pentagon news conference.
Reuters had reported earlier on Thursday that the United States was looking at a number of theories over what caused Prigozhin’s plane to crash, and cited two U.S. officials saying a surface-to-air missile likely hit it.
A preliminary Washington intelligence assessment found that the plane crash was initially caused by an explosion.
While officials did not give any further details about what set off the detonation, one highlighted the explosion fell in line with Putin’s ‘long history of trying to silence his critics’.
Until now, Moscow has not discussed it, despite mounting speculation the deaths were caused as part of a Kremlin-assassination ploy.
But tonight, in an eerie television address, the Russian president said Prigozhin had ‘made serious mistakes’ as he offered supposed ‘condolences’ to the families of the ten victims who died in the Tver region, around 60 miles north of the capital.
Throughout the chilling tribute, he alluded to Wagner’s failed military coup in June – ominously stating that Prigozhin ‘was a person with a difficult fate’.
He went on to add that his former-chef-turned-number-one-enemy was a ‘talented businessman’ and that the Kremlin would be launching a ‘preliminary investigation’ into the tragedy.
While he spoke in the past tense, and paid tribute to the 62-year-old warlord, he fell short of officially confirming Prigozhin’s death.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was quick to point out his country was no way involved in the crash before cryptically adding, ‘everyone understands who is involved’.