Two days after the alleged death of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash, the Kremlin has denied allegations of involvement. It is uncertain what the mercenary troop Wagner, once indispensable in the Russian war of aggression in the Ukraine, now awaits. Meanwhile, Russia reported Ukrainian drone attacks on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which had been illegally annexed in 2014.
"This is an absolute lie," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in Moscow about accusations against the Kremlin of involvement in Prigozhin's death. There is a lot of speculation about the crash, which "is fueled from a certain corner in the West," Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. The Kremlin has not yet confirmed Prigozhin's death either. Peskow advised to wait for the results of the investigations. "When the official results are ready to be published, they will be published," he said.
Future of Wagner private army uncertain
Peskow said he could not say anything about the future of the Wagner fighters. According to Russian law, there is no private military company Wagner. Nevertheless, of course, the group existed. The shadow army was deployed in Syria and many African countries, and also fought openly in Ukraine.
Chechen leader Kadyrov mourns publicly
Meanwhile, Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov publicly regretted Prigozhin's alleged death. "His death is a great loss for the whole country," he wrote on his Telegram channel shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of the tragedy. He expressed his condolences to the family. Kadyrov and Prigozhin were both involved in the Ukraine War with troops under their command. They were united in their criticism of the Russian military leadership for a while, but ended up falling out badly.
Lukashenko sees Putin as blameless
Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko sees no possible involvement of Putin in the alleged killing of Prigozhin. His private army Wagner should remain in Belarus. Lukashenko said Putin could not be behind the crash of Prigozhin's private jet, according to the state news agency Belta. "It's far too rough, unprofessional work," said Lukashenko.
"I know Putin. He's a calculating, very calm and even hesitant person, even when making decisions on other, less difficult issues. That's why I can't imagine that Putin did it, that it's Putin's fault," Lukashenko said . In doing so, he was reacting to accusations, primarily from the West, that Putin could have got rid of his adversary Prigozhin. Lukashenko himself is politically, economically and financially dependent on Putin.
After Prigozhin's failed uprising against Moscow's military leadership two months ago, his Wagner army moved into quarters in Belarus at the invitation of Lukashenko. The troops now remain in Belarus. "Wagner lived, Wagner lives, and Wagner will live in Belarus, even if someone doesn't like it," emphasized Lukashenko. He and Prigozhin would have built a system for stationing Wagner together. Lukashenko also rejected Western reports that Wagner was tearing down his tents in Belarus. Up to 10,000 Wagner fighters should come in the next few days, he said.