Western leaders including President Joe Biden and French government spokesman Olivier Véran expressed doubts this week about the accidental nature of the crash that killed Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin and suggested without outright saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin could have been involved.
“I don’t know for a fact about what happened, but I’m not surprised… there’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind, but I don’t know enough to know the answer,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday after "working out for an hour and a half."
Véran said: “We do not yet know the conditions under which this crash took place. We can have reasonable doubts."
Former French ambassador to France Sylvie Bermann was cited by newspaper Le Figaro as having said Thursday morning: “Anything is possible, but the most likely version remains execution by the FSB and the air force, ordered by Putin and his desire for revenge… It is a warning to those who might be tempted to rebel against him.”
The Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) once led by Prigozhin claimed on Telegram Thursday that the plane had been brought down by Russian anti-aircraft fire, and that witnesses could hear the weapons working as the jet crashed.
Nine other people were also killed in the crash, and Bermann noted that a large number of Russian oligarchs who crossed Putin had also been killed under mysterious circumstances in recent years.
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