Ukraine latest: 'Highly likely' Prigozhin is dead, UK says; Wagner fighters urged to 'take revenge' (2023)

Key points
  • 'Highly likely' Prigozhin is dead but no 'definitive proof' - UK MoD
  • Wagner fighters urged to 'take revenge'
  • Putin sends condolences after Prigozhin 'death'
  • What we know about the plane crash
  • 'Bomb in a wine crate' behind plane crash, former intelligence officer suggests
  • Watch: Moment jet crashes | Podcast:What does footage tell us?
  • Live reporting by Katie Williams


Number 10 monitoring Prigozhin plane crash 'closely'

Rishi Sunak said Downing Street is monitoring the situation around the plane crash reported to have killed Yevgeny Prigohzin "very closely".

He confirmed British intelligence suggests the Wagner chief was "most likely" on the plane.

The UK is "working with allies to establish what happened", the prime minister said.


Wagner Group 'no longer a significant factor' in Ukraine war

The Wagner Group is "no longer a factor" in the Ukraine war, the Pentagon has assessed.

Spokesman Pat Ryder told reporters at a news briefing that Wagner mercenary fighters led by Yevgeny Prigozhin were "essentially removed from combat" near the eastern city of Bakhmut after their short-lived rebellion in June.

He said prior to this, Wagner troops had been "essentially Russia's most effective combat forces on the battlefield".

"For all intents and purposes, their combat effectiveness has been diminished, and they are no longer a significant factor when it comes to the conflict inside Ukraine," Mr Ryder said.

But he warned Wagner has "many tentacles" and is also operating inside Africa, adding that the "potential for danger" outside of the conflict can't be discounted.

(Video) Dead in plane crash: Yevgeny Prigozhin who led mutiny against Putin - BBC News


Russian citizen 'detained in Finland at Kyiv's request'

Russia's embassy in Finland says it has been informed of the detention of a Russian citizen in the country.

The detention came at Ukraine's request, according to a report from Russian news agency RIA.

The embassy said it was taking steps to offer consular assistance.


Pro-Kyiv Russian militants call on Wagner mercenaries to switch sides

A group of Russian militants who fight on the Ukrainian side called on the Wagner Group mercenaries to switch sides and join their ranks after Wednesday's plane crash.

"You are facing a serious choice now - you can stand in astall of Russia's defence ministry and serve as watchdogs forexecutors of your commanders or take revenge," Denis Kapustin, commander of theRussian Volunteer Corps, said in a video published late yesterday.

"To take revenge you need to switch to Ukraine's side," the commander said.

Kapustin, a far-right Russian national, founded the armed group a year ago. It fights on the Ukrainian side and has said it was behind several military attacks on Russian border regions.


(Video) Yevgeny Prigozhin: Wagner boss ‘killed in deadly plane crash’ in Russia

Heineken sells Russian operations for €1

Heineken has sold its operations in Russia for€1 after it previously said it wanted to leave Russia after the Ukraine invasion.

The world's second-largest brewer will be left with losses of £257m after the sale to Russia's Arnest Group.

The Dutch brewer had said in March last year it intended to leave Russia and acknowledged today the process had taken longer than planned.

"Recent developments demonstrate the significant challenges faced by large manufacturing companies in exiting Russia," chief executive Dolf van den Brink said.

Many multinational companies flocked to leave Russia after the West imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow, but the Kremlin has retaliated by seizing some assets.

Vladimir Putin signed a decree last month totake control of French yoghurt maker Danone's Russiansubsidiary, along with beer company Carlsberg's stakein a local brewer.


Truth about plane crash depends on what information Moscow provides

Our Moscow correspondent Diana Magnayhas shared her immediate analysis of the MoD's statement this morning that Prigozhin is probably dead.

She says any proof would have to come from a Russian investigation...


Wagner Group 'will likely no longer exist'

(Video) Pentagon holds briefing after Putin acknowledges Wagner chief Prigozhin's reported death

The Wagner Group will "likely no longer exist as a quasi-independent parallel military structure" after Prigozhin's apparent death, according to a US thinktank.

In its daily update, the Institute for the Study of War said the loss of the group's central leadership in the crash means the group is unlikely to survive the Russian defence ministry's campaign to destroy the organisation after Prigozhin led its fighters in a rebellion against Moscow at the end of June.

The ISW also reported that the ministry has established private military companies that have been recruiting current and former Wagner personnel to take control of the group's operations abroad.

The fate of the Wagner Group is one of the big questions left after Prigozhin's apparent demise - here, our international affairs editor Dominic Waghorn goes through what could happen next...


Ukraine attacks Crimea with 'dozens of drones', Russia says

Russia said this morning thatUkraine had fired a missile towards Moscow and attacked Crimea with 42 drones.

It marks one of the biggest knowncoordinated Ukrainian air attacks to date on Russian-heldterritory.

The Russian defence ministry said it had shot down a modifiedS-200 missile over the Kaluga region, which borders the Moscowregion.

"The missile was detected and destroyed by air defences overthe territory of the Kaluga region," the defence ministry said.

There were no casualties, Kaluga governor VladislavShapsha said.

The ministry also said Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014,was attacked.

Nine drones were destroyed by air defence forceswhile 33 were suppressed by electronic warfare and crashed overCrimea without reaching their targets, it said.

Meanwhile, Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed governor of theport city of Sevastopol in Crimea, said on the Telegrammessaging app that a number of drones were destroyed in the area.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage fromthe attacks, which Russia blamed on Ukraine.


(Video) Sky News Special Programme: Prigozhin crash

'Highly likely' Prigozhin is dead but no 'definitive proof' - UK MoD

The UK's ministry of defence has said there is no "definitive proof" Yevgeny Prigozhin is dead but it is "highly likely".

In its daily intelligence update, the ministry also said his death would have a "deeply destabilising effect" on the Wagner group.

The update reads: "Exactly two months after the Wagner Group's mutiny, a Wagner-associated Embraer business jet crashed near Tver, between Moscow and St Petersburg.

"The Russian authorities claim 10 people onboard died, including Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin.

"There is not yet definitive proof that Prigozhin was onboard and he is known to exercise exceptional security measures. However, it is highly likely that he is indeed dead."

The statement added: "The demise of Prigozhin would almost certainly have a deeply destabilising effect on the Wagner Group.

"His personal attributes of hyper-activity, exceptional audacity, a drive for results and extreme brutality permeated Wagner and are unlikely to be matched by any successor.

"Wagner's leadership vacuum would be compounded by the reports that founder and field commander Dimitry Utkin and logistics chief Valery Chekalov also died."

It's difficult to say much about the crash with certainty - but in this video military analyst Sean Bell takes us through what could have caused the jet to come down...


Good morning

Welcome back to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine - we'll be bringing all the latest throughout the day.

The fallout from the plane crash that apparently killed Yevgeny Prigozhin and nine others continues, withUS intelligence saying an intentional explosion brought down the Wagner leader's jet.

Overnight, Russia's defence ministry said it destroyed 42 Ukraine-launched drones over Crimea. It also said Ukraine tried to attack civilian targets on its territorywith a modified S-200 missile.

Here is what else you need to know from the past 24 hours:

(Video) In-depth analysis: Wagner chief Prigozhin presumed to have died in a plane crash • FRANCE 24

  • Vladimir Putin sent condolences to Prigozhin's family, saying he was a "talented businessman";
  • The first photos of the passengers on board the plane emerged, with several having links to the Wagner Group;
  • A former British intelligence officer said a "bomb in a wine crate" may be what downed Prigozhin's death;
  • Ukrainian intelligence forces say they conducted a "special operation" in Crimea with the help of the navy;
  • Norway is expected to become the third European country after the Netherlands and Denmark to donate F-16 planes.


1. Yevgeny Prigozhin 'Shot Down' | "This Is A Very Public Execution By The Russians"
2. Why the Russian FSB is encouraging Prigozhin's Wagner Group soldiers to detain their leader
3. 'Farewell, Glory to Ukraine' Last moments before Ukrainian teenagers are targeted by Russian forces
(The Telegraph)
4. Ukraine war: Russia's Wagner Group boss says he will pull troops out of Bakhmut - BBC News
(BBC News)
5. Wagner chief's bombshell accusations: Prigozhin says Russian army deliberately attacked his forces
(FRANCE 24 English)
6. Putin vows to brutally punish 'traitor' Prigozhin and his Wagner mercenaries
(The Telegraph)
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