As we previously wrote, reports began emerging on Wednesday afternoon that the head of Wagner Group PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was thought to be among the 10 people aboard a plane that crashed in Russia, killing all passengers and crew members:
Just months after leading a short-lived coup against Russian president Vladimir Putin, infamous PMC Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has reportedly been killed in a “plane crash.”
According to a passenger manifest, Prigozhin was on board the Wagner-owned plane when it plummeted to the earth, presumably killing all onboard.
But Bonchie added, because of the breaking nature of the details, it was not confirmed that Prigozhin was aboard:
A Telegram message sent by members of the Wagner group claimed that the plane was shot down by Russian air defenses. The first video does appear to show a second contrail from what may have been a missile.
Because reports are still so new at the time of this writing, it is at least possible Prigozhin wasn’t on the plane despite being on the manifest. Given his prior actions against Putin, though, many assumed it was just a matter of time before he had an “accident.”
My colleague Streiff wrote a deeper dive earlier on Thursday about who else died in the crash, while sharing that Russian state media was reporting Prigozhin’s death (see Russian State Media Says Wagner Group Honcho Yevgeny Prigozhin Is Dead; What Comes Next?).
Now, the Pentagon is saying “the U.S. believes that Prigozhin died” on the plane:
Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin was likely killed in the plane that crashed Wednesday about 100 miles from Moscow, the Pentagon said Thursday.
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the U.S. believes that Prigozhin died but did not comment on the cause of the crash or whether he was slain intentionally.[…]
Ryder on Thursday said there is no information to corroborate claims that a surface-to-air missile was fired at the plane but declined to comment on whether an internal bomb exploded.
Ryder said during a press conference that “[o]ur initial assessment, based on a variety of factors, is that he was likely killed.”
Earlier, the Wall Street Journal, reporting on information provided by U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the officials “believe either a bomb exploded on the aircraft or some other form of sabotage downed the plane.”
As this is a developing story, RedState will provide further details as they become available.