Prigozhin’s Plane Crash: What We Know

( – The Gospel of Matthew warns that “all… that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” The recent death of Russian mercenary Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, Евгений Викторович Пригожин, is a modern example of that ancient adage in action — from a symbolic perspective, of course.

Media outlets recently erupted with the news that a private plane transporting the Wagner Group head suddenly fell from the sky while traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Conflicting news accounts have ruled the internet and airwaves since then, but we’ve tried to filter them for you using reliable sources.

Here’s what we know so far.

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Fatal Crash: Sorting Through the Information

On Thursday, August 24, Reuters reported that an Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet, believed to be transporting Prigozhin and nine others, suddenly suffered a “precipitous drop” during the final 30 seconds of its scheduled flight and crashed in Russia’s Tver Region outside the tiny village of Kuzhenkino. Flight-tracking data showed no indication of trouble during the rest of the aircraft’s journey.

A spokesperson for real-time aircraft fight tracking service Flightradar24 confirmed that at about 6:19 p.m., local time (GMT+3), the aircraft suddenly plummeted with no warning. Ian Petchenik said the plane dropped more than 8,000 feet within about half a minute. “Whatever happened, [occured] quickly,” he explained, adding that up until that time, there wasn’t any indication anything was “wrong with this aircraft.”

Video footage of the private jet’s flight emerged, showing it falling from the sky rapidly in a nearly vertical position with a plume of vapor or smoke trailing behind it. However, here’s where things get a little murky.

Reuters reported that unnamed sources indicated someone shot the aircraft down using “one or more surface-to-air missiles.” However, like other media outlets, it could not confirm that information.

The Pentagon and President Vladimir Putin Weigh in on Prigozhin’s Final Flight

On Thursday afternoon, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder discussed the downed Russian aircraft during a routine media briefing. He told reporters the Pentagon’s initial assessment of the situation indicated that Prighozin was likely killed in the crash.

Ryder also said Defense officials didn’t put any weight behind press reports claiming “some type… of missile… took down the plane.” He stressed that point, adding that “beyond that,” the Pentagon had no further information on the situation.

The Kyiv Independent published a report on Friday discussing President Vladimir Putin’s response to the deadly crash. The Russian leader indicated that Prigozhin probably died in the crash.

Eerily, Putin noted (warned?) that Prigozhin “made mistakes,” a likely reference to the mercenary group’s recent march on Moscow from Ukraine. On June 23, he launched a rebellion against Russian military leaders. He made it within about an hour of Moscow before he agreed to call off the attempted coup and relocate to Belarus — but apparently, he didn’t stay there.

Media outlets, historians, and military experts had predicted that it was just a matter of time before Putin exacted his revenge on Prigozhin. However, since his plane went down in Russia, the world will likely never know exactly what happened.

Some Questions Remain

Some lingering questions remain regarding Prigozhin’s death. POLITICO reported that Tsargrad claimed that his body had been identified. However, there hasn’t been any official confirmation of his death yet. In 2019, news agencies reported that he died in a plane crash in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So, it’s possible reports of his death may be greatly exaggerated.

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