Should Biden have said this?
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the individual behind Russia’s Wagner Group and a recent challenger to Vladimir Putin’s authority, reportedly perished in a plane crash that occurred outside Moscow, resulting in the deaths of 10 individuals. The incident took place on Wednesday and involved a business jet en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg, which crashed in the Tver region, according to TASS news agency.
According to Fox, TASS shared on its Telegram channel, “Prigozhin was among the passengers, as stated by the Federal Air Transport Agency. An investigation into the Embraer aircraft crash has been initiated.”
Though confirmation regarding Prigozhin’s presence among the deceased was not immediately available, Russian state media later affirmed his passing. The Pentagon confirmed its monitoring of the situation, while White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson remarked, “We have seen the reports. If confirmed, no one should be surprised. The disastrous war in Ukraine led to a private army marching on Moscow, and now — it would seem — to this.”
When questioned about Prigozhin’s potential involvement in the crash, President Biden responded, “I don’t know for a fact what happened, but I am not surprised…Not much happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind, I don’t know enough to know the answer.”
In contrast, President Putin made a public appearance at a concert in Russia after news of the crash surfaced. Dmitry Peskov, his press secretary, assured Russian media that Putin was aware of the events related to Prigozhin and that appropriate actions were being taken.
Earlier in late June, Prigozhin initiated a significant challenge to Vladimir Putin’s rule by leading his 25,000-strong mercenary forces to within 125 miles of Moscow. However, he suddenly halted the operation, ordered his troops to return home, and eventually sought exile in Belarus.
This reported crash follows Prigozhin’s recent video posted on Telegram, where he claimed that the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary force, aimed to elevate Russia’s status and promote freedom in Africa. Prigozhin’s history involves utilizing the Wagner Group since 2014 as part of Russia’s expansion strategy in the Middle East and Africa.