By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MOSCOW (Worthy News) – Russian President Vladimir Putin broke his silence late Thursday and confirmed the death of Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash that also killed all nine other people on board.
Putin called Prigozhin a “talented businessman” and expressed his condolences to the late leader’s family and the loved ones of the other victims. Authorities say all 10 people on the plane were killed when it crashed near Moscow – and that passengers included Prigozhin and his right-hand man Dmitry Utkin
British defense sources said Russia’s FSB intelligence agency was most likely responsible after Prigozhin angered the Kremlin with a mutiny in June against the military’s leadership.
Putin called Wagner’s June 23-24 mutiny, in which Wagner’s forces approached Moscow, “treachery” at the time.
On Thursday, Putin paid tribute to the man who was once known as his “chef” due to lucrative contracts he had to supply food to the Kremlin.
“I have known Prigozhin for a long time, since the beginning of the 1990s,” Putin stressed in his televised address in which he also said the late leader had made “serious mistakes.”
Clearly referring to Wagner’s aborted mutiny in June, Putin noted that Prigozhin “was a person with a complicated fate, and he made serious mistakes in life.”
However, the Russian leader hastened to add that Prigozhin “also sought to achieve the necessary results – both for himself and at time when I asked him to, for the common cause, such as in these recent months.”
Putin seemed to refer to the war in Ukraine, which he calls a “special military operation” in which Wagner forces fought against Ukrainian troops.
The death of Prigozhin has raised questions about Wagner’s future operations in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
Putin said that “as far as I’m aware,” Prigozhin “only yesterday [Wednesday] returned from Africa. He met certain official persons there”.
In recent days the Wagner boss was believed to have been present in West Africa – where Western analysts fear the group was seeking to widen its reach into other countries, including Niger, where a coup has just occurred.
Experts view Wagner as a critical pillar of Russian foreign policy. Its forces helped to prop up governments in Syria, Mali, the Central African Republic, and Libya in exchange for lucrative mining rights.
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