It is still unclear what exactly caused the crash of the private plane in which Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin most likely died. US intelligence agencies believe a deliberate explosion is the cause.
Who or what is responsible for the crash of the private plane that presumably killed the leader of the notorious Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin? So far, the exact circumstances are unclear, there are only many indications.
However, a preliminary assessment by US intelligence agencies concludes that a deliberate explosion caused the crash, the news outlet reports.
One of the American and Western officials describing the initial assessment said that Yevgeny Prigozhin was “most likely” the target and that the blast fit with Putin’s “long history of attempts to silence his critics.”
Officials, who spoke anonymously to the AP, did not provide further details on what caused the blast.
US sees no evidence of missile as cause
The reports, citing intelligence sources, that an explosion on board the plane likely caused the jet to crash. An explosion is the leading theory for the cause. The explosion could have been triggered by a bomb or other explosive device placed on the plane, the NYT said. Other theories, such as adulterated fuel, are also being investigated, officials said, who also spoke anonymously.
However, the US sees no evidence that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. There is “no information that there was a surface-to-air missile,” US Defense Department spokesman Pat Ryder said at a press conference at the Pentagon on Thursday. Reports of a missile are “wrong”. However, he could not provide any information about the cause of the crash.
Kremlin spokesman on involvement in Prigozhin death: “absolute lie”
The plane crashed on Wednesday evening in the Tver region near the village of Kushenkino. According to the Ministry of Civil Protection, none of the ten occupants survived. The Russian aviation authority Rozaviatsiya confirmed at the same time that Prigozhin was on board the machine on the way from Moscow to St. Petersburg. However, the authorities did not officially announce the death of the mercenary leader because the bodies had not yet been identified.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Prigozhin openly challenged with a brief rebellion in June, expressed his condolences to “the families of all the victims” on Thursday. At the same time, he described Prigozhin as a “capable” man who had made “serious mistakes”.
Putin’s spokesman has denied allegations that the Kremlin was involved in the alleged death of the mercenary leader. “That is an absolute lie,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in Moscow on Friday. There is a lot of speculation about the plane crash that “is fueled by a certain corner in the West,” Russian news agencies quoted Peskov as saying.
The Kremlin has not yet confirmed Prigozhin’s death either. Peskov advised waiting for the results of the investigation, as Putin had done the day before. “When the official results are ready for release, they will be released”.
Sources: News agencies AP, AFP and DPA, “New York Times”
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