The Yevgeny V. Prigozhin story plays on….
Putrin denies he settled a score….
What happens to the leaderless Wagner troops?….
Putin IS gonna try to finally get them to become his….
With Prigozhin gone it seems the Belarus leader is getting cold feet about the his relationship with the Wagner group…
The US joins other NATO countries is beginning to train Ukraine pilots on flying the F-16….
Heineken Beer and Domino’s Pizza have left Russia….
The Ukraine contiunes to send drones into Crimea and Moscow …..
The Kremlin on Friday denied involvement in the presumed death of the Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, dismissing suggestions by Western officials that it was behind a fatal plane crash as “an absolute lie.”
The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, urged a focus on “the facts,” which he said would become clear in the course of the investigation into the crash on Wednesday of a jet that listed Mr. Prigozhin and associates as passengers. The comments were sure to ring hollow to many observers inside and outside Russia, given the Kremlin’s past denials of actions it was later shown to have carried out.
U.S. officials have sounded increasingly certain that Mr. Prigozhin was dead, and some European leaders have speculated that the Kremlin had orchestrated his killing in response to the short-lived mutiny that the mercenary leader launched in June.
Although the Russian authorities have not confirmed Mr. Prigozhin’s death, President Vladimir V. Putin referred to the Wagner leader in the past tense in televised remarks on Thursday, saying of his onetime ally: “He made some serious mistakes in life, but he also achieved necessary results.”
Here is what else to know:
On Friday, Russian authorities said that the black boxes from the plane crash that is presumed to have killed Mr. Prigozhin and nine other passengers had been recovered. Russia’s Investigative Committee also began the process of DNA matching to identify the victims.
U.S. and other Western officials say that preliminary intelligence suggests an explosion brought down the plane, and that the explosion could have been caused by a bomb or other device planted on the aircraft, though other theories, like adulterated fuel, were also being explored, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.
An analysis by The New York Times of flight data and video from the crash indicates there was most likely at least one catastrophic midair event that occurred several minutes before the private jet crashed. The precipitous drop and widespread debris, experts say, point to an explosion or sudden breaking apart of the aircraft rather than a mechanical failure.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense said on Friday that Ukraine had launched 42 drones at Crimea and fired a missile not far from Moscow overnight, in a volley that could be one of the biggest known aerial assaults on Russian-held territory since the war began.
A top adviser to the president of the Central African Republic confirmed that Mr. Prigozhin had visited the country in the days before the crash. His presumed death could have profound consequences for African client states and warlords who helped turn the mercenary enterprise into one of Russia’s most powerful assets on the continent…..
Here’s the latest on the war and its impact across the globe.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister criticized President Bidenfor implying that Putin may have been behind Prigozhin’s presumed death. In comments in Russian state media Friday, Sergei Ryabkov said Biden’s remarks illustrated Washington’s disregard for diplomacy. “It is not for the U.S. president, in my opinion, to talk about such tragic events of this nature,” Ryabkov told Tass news agency. “I’m not surprised” about the plane crash, Biden told reporters. “There is not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind, but I don’t know enough to know the answer.”
Yan Petrovsky, a Wagner-affiliated fighter under U.S. and E.U. sanctions, was detained in Finland on Friday at the request of Ukraine. Kyiv has identified him as a key figure in Task Force Rusich, a unit that has fought with the Wagner in Ukraine, described as a “neo-Nazi paramilitary group” by the U.S. Treasury. “Preparations for extradition are underway,” the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in a statement posted to Telegram.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who brokered the deal that averted Prigozhin’s short-lived mutiny in June, denied Friday that he had offered Prigozhin a security guarantee as part of the arrangement and said that he had warned Prigozhin that he could be killed as a result of his actions, in remarks covered by state news agency BelTA
An explosion was detected along the path of the plane, but there were no signs of a missile launch, according to U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a preliminary assessment. The early uncertainty leaves open the possibility that the plane was sabotaged somehow, but precisely what happened to the Embraer private jet remains unclear, The Washington Post reported.
It is “highly likely” that Prigozhin is dead, although there is no “definitive proof,” Britain’s Defense Ministry said Friday. “Highly likely” means the ministry considers the probability that he is dead to be between 80 and 90 percent. “The demise of Prigozhin would almost certainly have a deeply destabilising effect on the Wagner Group,” the ministry added.
Putin praised Prigozhin in his first remarks since the crash. He called Prigozhin a “talented man” who “made mistakes,” and praised the Wagner Group’s work in Ukraine and Africa, in televised comments Thursday. However, Putin stopped short of explicitly confirming Prigozhin’s death, instead noting that investigations were underway. Pro-Kremlin analyst Sergei Markov said the president’s remarks were designed to stem speculation in Russia that he ordered the killings.
Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on Ukraine’s Independence Day, and Biden “reiterated the U.S. commitment to support Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression for as long as it takes.” They agreed to begin training Ukrainian fighter pilots on F-16 fighter jets to “increase Ukraine’s defensive capabilities,” the White House said Thursday. Earlier, Zelensky said that Ukraine had no involvement in the Russian plane crash.
Norway will give a number of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said, without specifying how many. “We have already decided to train Ukrainian fighter jet pilots and announced in the summer that we would provide two Norwegian F-16 jets for training purposes,” he said. Norway will disclose further details about additional F-16 donations to Ukraine on a later date, he added. The United States will begin instructing Ukrainian pilots in flying F-16 aircraft in Arizona in October, the Pentagon said.
The United States levied sanctions against Russians linked to the forcible deportation of Ukraine’s children. “Children are the most innocent victims of war: we have not forgotten Ukraine’s children,” the State Department said in a statement announcing the new penalties against more than a dozen individuals and entities.
Heineken said it has completed its exit from the Russian market at an expected loss of 300 million euros ($324 million), after selling its operations in the country to Russia’s Arnest Group for a symbolic 1 euro. The Dutch brewer, famous for its beers, said in a statement Friday that it had planned to leave the Russian market after the invasion of Ukraine began in 2022 but acknowledged “it took much longer than we had hoped.” On Monday, the company that oversees the Domino’s Pizza brand in Russia said it would file for bankruptcy there, citing unspecified business challenges.
Ukraine is seeking armored medical evacuation vehicles from its supporters, Zelensky said, according to his office. Ukraine’s medical professionals are struggling to keep up with an increase in mine injuries since the start of the counteroffensive in June.
Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of attempting dozens of drone attacks over Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed illegally in 2014, although it claimed that Russian forces were able to destroy or intercept all of them. Russia has blamed Kyiv for a series of blasts in Crimea, including attacks on Russian military sites last year. Kyiv has not officially claimed the attacks while warning that they will continue as a result of the war.
Prigozhin’s presumed death casts fate of Wagner’s operations in doubt: The apparent deaths of Prigozhin and his top lieutenants have brought the Wagner mercenary group closer to an end, Mary Ilyushina and Francesca Ebel report. But the question remains: Which remnants of Wagner’s once-sprawling empire will Putin take over?
As an organization, Wagner is “really finished,” said David Lewis, a professor of global politics at Britain’s University of Exeter who has researched the group’s illicit business networks in Africa. Prigozhin would be “impossible to replace,” he said. But the Kremlin will seek to replicate Wagner’s blend of mercenaries, profitable business, smuggling and disinformation campaigns, he added….
“Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Friday requiring all mercenaries to swear allegiance to Russia, a revelation that comes on the heels of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin’s reported death,” CNBCreports.