No sign surface-to-air missile took down Wagner chief's plane, U.S. says

The U.S. intelligence community is still assessing what caused the plane crash that likely killed Wagner group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, but there aren’t any indications it was a surface-to-air missile, according to the Pentagon.

“Our initial assessment is that it’s likely Prigozhin was killed,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters on Thursday. He said there is no information so far to corroborate press reporting that a surface-to-air missile in Russia brought down the plane.

Another possible cause of the crash U.S. officials are exploring is an explosion onboard the plane, like a bomb.

Russia’s aviation agency said Prigozhin was one of 10 people listed on the manifest of a private plane that crashed in the Tver region outside Moscow on Wednesday.

The crash occurred two months to the day Prigozhin launched an attempted mutiny on Moscow protesting the Russian Defense Ministry’s handling of the war in Ukraine.

Following the rebellion, the Wagner group largely disbanded its operations on the battlefield in Ukraine but does have a presence in other countries, particularly across Africa.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to discount the potential for danger when it comes to that group or the remnants of that group, so we’ll continue to keep a close eye on it,” Ryder said Thursday.

Prigozhin’s first video address since the rebellion attempt appeared on Monday apparently from Africa, where Prigozhin in the clip said that the Wagner group was making Africa “more free.”

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