US intelligence rules out that the crash was caused by a missile
A bomb or less likely a missile caused the crash of the plane in which Evgheny Prigozhin was travelling, who died on August 23 – with 9 other people including members of the Wagner and crew – in the Tver region of Russia. The death of the head of the Wagner mercenaries is still a question mark: the dynamics of the story are at the center of an investigation launched in Russia and, obviously, it attracts the attention of Western intelligence, starting with that of the United States. US experts are still in the early stages of assessing what might have happened to the jet.
Intelligence has indications that a surface-to-air missile launched by a Russian air defense system or an air-to-air missile launched by a Russian fighter may have downed the Embraer jet, three different sources told CNN. The intelligence did know that a series of options are still being evaluated, including that of a bomb on board, which is also referred to by the Russian media. In any case, the accident hypothesis is not taken into consideration: it is assumed that the plane was deliberately shot down to kill Prigozhin.
The Pentagon believes Prigozhin was killed in the crash, according to Defense Department spokesman Patrick Ryder: “I won’t go into detail on how we gather information, but our initial assessment, based on a number of factors, is that it probably is been killed”. Then the spokesman clarified that the Pentagon “does not have any information indicating at the moment” that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
The track of the explosion on board is also indicated by the New York Times on the basis of information and provided by American and European officials on condition of anonymity. “The explosion could have been caused by a bomb or other device planted on the plane, although other theories, such as contaminated fuel, are also being studied,” officials said. According to them, it was the Russian president Vladimir Putin to order the destruction of the plane in an attempt to kill Prigozhin.
PUTIN, CONDOGLIANCES AND THE INVESTIGATION
Meanwhile, Putin breaks his silence after 24 hours and, in his role as defender of the truth, ensures “a full and thorough investigation”, effectively confirming Prigozhin’s death with a message of condolences. “If Wagner personnel were on board, and preliminary data indicate so, I would like to say that these are people who have made a great contribution to our common cause, which is to fight the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine. We remember that, we know that and we will never forget it”, says the Russian president speaking of a “tragedy” and expressing “sincere condolences to the families of the victims”.
“I have known Prigozhin for a long time, since the beginning of the nineties. He was a man marked by a difficult fate and made serious mistakes in his life (Video). He strove to achieve the results he needed for himself, and when I asked him about it, for the common cause, as in recent months,” Putin stressed.
“He was talented as a person and as an entrepreneur. He worked not only in our country, he worked, with results also abroad, particularly in Africa. He was involved with oil, gas, metals and precious stones. I know, he had just returned to Africa yesterday, where he had met various officials”.
“But what has been established – as the head of the investigating commission told me this morning – is that an investigation has already been opened into the plane tragedy. And it will be fully completed and brought to a conclusion. And there is no doubt about this. Let’s see what the investigators will say in the near future and now, the technical, expert, genetic tests are underway. It will take some time”.