Wagner Group mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has reportedly died in a plane crash in Russia. The US would not be surprised if the Russian mercenary boss actually died. Photo/REUTERS
WASHINGTON – The United States government (US) said it was not surprised by reports that Wagner Group mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash in Tver, Russia.
The private jet carrying 10 people, including Priogzhin, was reportedly shot down by Russian forces on Wednesday. It was that report that fueled allegations that it was an assassination operation on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We have seen the reports. If true, then there is nothing to be surprised about,” wrote White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson on social media X, quoted by Newsweek, Thursday (24/8/2023).
Earlier on Wednesday, Russian state media reported that Prigozhin was among the passengers on a private jet that crashed en route from Moscow to St Petersburg.
“We have looked at the reports but have nothing to offer at this time,” the US Department of Defense said in a statement. “Meanwhile, we will continue to monitor the situation.”
Prigozhin’s fate has been the subject of speculation since he launched an uprising against the Russian leadership in late June.
The armed uprising was short lived and was abruptly canceled in a deal with the Kremlin that forced Prigozhin to move to Belarus and required his mercenaries to sign contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense or join their leader in exile. However, it was reported that the boss of the mercenary was spotted in Russia.
Prigozhin was a key figure in the war in Ukraine, fighting in key battle zones such as Bakhmut. But he is also an outspoken critic of Russian military and defense officials for the way the war effort is being managed.
When asked about Wednesday’s crash, President Joe Biden told CNN; “There isn’t much going on in Russia that Putin isn’t on board with. But I don’t know enough to know the answer.”