Putin Offers ‘Sincere Condolences’ For Death Of Mercenary General He’s Suspected Of Assassinating

Russia's President Vladimir Putin offering his 'sincere condolences' in his first public remarks on Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who reportedly died in a plane crash in Russia on August 23, 2023. [Twitter/Screenshot/User: @SkyNews]

John Oyewale Contributor
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Russian President Vladimir Putin broke his silence Thursday on the plane crash that reportedly killed the mercenary Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, according to several reports.

“As for this plane crash, first of all I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of all those who died. It is always a tragedy,” Putin said in a video published by Sky News.

Putin, however, appeared not to directly confirm Prigozhin’s death in the plane crash. “Indeed, if they were there, and according to the initial information, Wagner Group employees were on board, I want to note that those people made a significant contribution to our common cause of fighting the Nazi regime in Ukraine,” he added, per the video.

Putin’s relationship with Prigozhin stretched back to the early 1990s, according to Putin. “[Prigozhin] was a person with a complicated background, he made serious mistakes in his life and he achieved the necessary results, both for himself and, when I asked him, for the common cause, as during the past few months,” Putin reportedly noted.

Prigozhin had returned from a trip to Africa and met with some officials in Russia before the doomed flight, Putin said in the video. A preliminary investigation was underway and would be “conducted fully and completed,” he added. (RELATED: Pentagon Says Wagner Leader Likely Dead, Cause For Plane Crash Still To Be Determined)

Prigozhin and right-hand man Dmitry Utkin were among the crash fatalities, Russia’s civil aviation authority said, per Sky. Five other Wagner members and the three aircrews, including 39-year-old stewardess Kristina Raspopova, the only female aboard the 10-people flight, also reportedly perished. The bodies, reportedly burnt beyond recognition, were seen being taken away from the crash site in videos that circulated online.

Two unnamed U.S. officials theorized in comments to Reuters that a Russian missile might have caused the crash. Two anti-aircraft missile regiments and four airbases reportedly lie along the flight route, with the crash reportedly occurring near Putin’s residence in Valday, Novgorod Oblast. Some pro-Wagner sources claimed a bomb might have been on the flight, according to Sky.

U.S. President Joe Biden appeared unsurprised at Prigozhin’s death. “There is not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind, but I don’t know enough to know the answer,” he said.

“We don’t have any connection to this situation, that’s for sure. I think everyone understands who is involved,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at a press conference in response to news of the crash, per Sky.