Speculation abounded this week after Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin died in a plane crash. While few facts are about what caused the fatal incident, the Pentagon confirmed that one major theory is incorrect.
According to The Guardian, Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder denied that the plane was taken down by a surface-to-air missile, saying, "We assess that information to be inaccurate."
Fox News reported that the Kremlin has released a statement in which it officially denied playing any role in Prigozhin's death.
"Right now, of course, there are lots of speculations around this plane crash and the tragic deaths of the passengers of the plane, including Yevgeny Prigozhin," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying.
"Of course, in the West those speculations are put out under a certain angle, and all of it is a complete lie," Peskov went on to allege.
Fox News noted that for his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also dismissed any suggestion of involvement, stating, "We are not involved in this situation, that's for sure."
Prigozhin made headlines earlier this year for leading what he called a "march for justice" that saw thousands of troops affiliated with the private military company Wagner Group.
The mercenaries begin making their way to Moscow as part of an abortive coup against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Russia's Wagner mercenary force, has made the bold claim that his troops have entered Russia with the intention of ousting the country's military leadership. The Russian security services responded by initiating a criminal investigation against… pic.twitter.com/wJSxzoQT7g
— Mojo Story (@themojostory) June 24, 2023
While preparations were made by Russian security forces for a possible fighting in the nation's capital, Fox News reported that a deal was ultimately brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Meanwhile, Fox News observed that Wagner Group fighters have been mourning the death of Prigozhin along with other company officials who died in this week's crash.
"I won’t be afraid to say that Yevgeny Prigozhin is a Russian hero," one unnamed Wagner Group supporter was quoted as telling the news website Fontanka.
"He’s a man of his word. He’s done a lot not only in the course of the special military operation, [but] in defending Russia’s interests in the world, the Syrian campaign [and] in Africa," the figure added.
"Guys, we just have no words right now," another anonymous person is said to have told AFP journalists. "Let's support Yevgeny Viktorovich [Prigozhin] and all our commanders. We need your support now."