Russia blasts Biden over Wagner Group plane crash response

August 28, 2023

Russian officials blasted President Joe Biden over his response to Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin dying in a plane crash last week.

Biden said he was not surprised by the military group chief's death, noting that not much happens in Russia that President Vladimir Putin is not behind.

The tension

"I’m not surprised," Biden said. "There is not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind, but I don’t know enough to know the answer."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov responded against Biden's words: "Still, it is not for the U.S. president, in my opinion, to talk about such tragic events of this kind," Ryabkov was quoted by the state TASS news agency as saying.

The situation

"On Wednesday, the Russian civil aviation authority Rosaviatsia confirmed that Wagner group chief Prigozhin was aboard the private jet that crashed on the way to St. Petersburg from Moscow," the Hindustan Times reported.

"While rescuers found 10 bodies, there has been no official confirmation of Prigozhin's death so far," it added.

The suspicion

"The AP reports that flight tracking data shows a private jet that was registered to Wagner took off from Moscow Wednesday evening. Minutes after takeoff, the jet's transponder signal was lost in a rural area with no nearby airfields," CBS News reported.

"The crash immediately raised suspicions since the fate of the founder of the Wagner private military company has been the subject of intense speculation ever since he mounted the mutiny," it continued.

The Wagner Group has vowed to continue its operations despite the loss of its leader. After operating in Russia and Ukraine, the group now plans to work in Africa.

Many Wagner Group members currently remain in Belarus as they make plans to leave the area. The military group's plans may be uncertain, however, as transportation between Belarus and Africa could prove to be difficult.

Others remain unconvinced that Prigozhin was on the plane and is dead, speculating that the plane crash may have been a setup. The view adds to controversy over the deaths of those on the airplane as Russia continues to deal with the aftermath of the situation.

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