Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky believes that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is involved in the death of the founder of the Wagner Group private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
"Putin has lost his nerve - as a person, as a politician. He killed Prigozhin - at least, that's the information we have," Zelensky said.
Speaking at the Yalta summit in Kyiv, the Ukrainian President did not specify the source of his information, but noted that Prigozhin's death is a plus for Ukraine, as there is "one less terrorist".
"The morale of Russians has declined because they were hiding behind Wagner mercenaries, pushing them forward, unable to retreat. I think they have lost this defense, hiding behind the lives of mercenaries, Wagner fighters," Zelensky explained.
On August 23, the private aircraft Embraer Legacy 600, used by Prigozhin, was flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg. At around 18:20 Moscow time, the jet crashed in the Tver region. According to the flight manifest, there were 10 individuals on board the aircraft, including the founder of the Wagner Group, key commanders Dmitry Utkin and Valery Chkalov, four mercenaries, and three crew members - two pilots, and a flight attendant. Three days later, the Russian Investigative Committee confirmed the identities of those who were killed.
News about the death of the Wagner owner dominated the front pages of international media for several days. The version that received the most discussion was that Putin personally ordered the destruction of the plane carrying Prigozhin. The Kremlin insisted it was not involved in the plane crash.
The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), relying on reports from Russian bloggers, pointed to other interested parties in the death of the founder of the PMC - the Russian Ministry of Defense and security forces. However, analysts did not rule out that this was an attempt to "whitewash" Putin's reputation.