Ukraine latest: 'Highly likely' Prigozhin is dead but no 'definitive proof', says UK defence ministry (2023)

Key points
  • 'Highly likely' Prigozhin is dead but no 'definitive proof' - UK MoD
  • Putin sends condolences after Prigozhin 'death'
  • What we know about the Prigozhin 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 Niamh Lynch


'Largest coordinated Ukrainian air attack' hits Russia overnight

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.


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

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

(Video) No ‘Definitive Proof’ Wagner Boss Prigozhin Is Dead, U.K. Defense Ministry Says

In their 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 on board 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 demise of Prigozhin would almost certainly have a deeply destabilising effect on the Wagner Group," the statement continued.

"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."


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:

  • 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.


Prigozhin's 'death' reveals a Russian principle - cross the Kremlin and it won't end well

By Diana Magnay, Moscow correspondent

Outside a glass-fronted business centre a little way out of central St Petersburg, the mourners kept coming.

Up until just a few weeks ago, this building was known as the Wagner Centre. It had its grand opening last November, a mark of how much both Yevgeny Prigozhin and his private military company, often called "the musicians" or "orchestra" in Russia, were on the ascendancy. Today it felt as though both were being laid to rest. What a difference ten months can make.

"It's like losing a father, he was everything to us" said one Prigozhin fan. "Everyone was waiting to hear what uncle Zhenya would say."

"I lost my son in Artyomsk (Bakhmut)", another said. "It was important for me to come and pay tribute to Prigozhin as a hero of Russia."

One woman was inconsolable, her hands pressed to her face as she sobbed. We thought she had lost a loved one, but she said she was crying for Russia's future.

"I am in so much pain because this person (Prigozhin) didn't have the chance to do everything he wanted to do," she said. "These people wanted to bring order and now how can we talk about order? Our authorities are corrupt up to the very top. This was my last hope, for some change in the future and now I have no hope. Oligarchy and that's all."

Five hours away at the crash site near Tver, investigators were still picking their way through the remains. "Now investigations are being carried out. This will take some time," President Putin said sagely.

No doubt a report will eventually be filed with explanations which will satisfy no one except those looking to conceal the truth. Thus it was with the long inquiry into Boris Nemtsov's assassination outside the Kremlin in 2015, or Russia’s token investigation into Alexey Navalny's poisoning in August 2020. Both Nemtsov and Navalny were entirely different men to Evgeny Prigozhin, Kremlin critics speaking out in defence of democracy and civil society as opposed to a Kremlin lackey who got too big for his boots. But the principle remains the same, it seems - cross the Kremlin, whoever you are, and it won’t end well.

Circulating today on social media - an old video, released in February on pro-war telegram channels. It is of Prigozhin and his deputy, Dmitry Utkin, who was also killed, in conversation with a Russian military blogger.

"Death is not the end, just the beginning of something else," Utkin says, off-camera.

"We will all go to hell, but in hell we will be the best," Prigozhin adds.

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


What now for the Wagner group?

After the Wagner Group's march on Moscow in June, Yevgeny's Prigozhin's star fell somewhat - Sky's Dominic Waghorn explains.


Russians pay respects to Wagner boss at makeshift memorial

People have been laying down flowers, messages and teddy bears at a makeshift memorial for Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin near the former PMC Wagner Centre in Saint Petersburg, Russia, this evening.

Crowds also formed a line outside the building to pay their respects.

(Video) Vladimir Putin breaks silence over plane crash Russia claims ‘killed’ Wagner’s Prigozhin - BBC News


Watch: What do we know on Prigozhin's downed plane?


Who else was on the crashed Russian private jet?

Ten bodies have been recovered from the site of a Russian plane crash, state media has said, with a number of high-profile members of the Wagner mercenary group reportedly on board.

Seven passengers and three crew were on board the Embraer aircraft, and all were killed, Russian authorities said - although Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin's death has yet to be officially confirmed.

The plane was heading from Moscow to St Petersburg before it came down near the village of Kuzhenkino Tver.

Sky News looks at who was on the plane's manifest, released by Russia's civilian aviation regulator:


(Video) What Yevgeny Prigozhin’s presumed death means for Ukraine – BBC News

Prigozhin 'dead', what next for Putin and Ukraine?

Russians have been paying tribute to Yevgeny Prigozhin after it was reportedthe Wagner leader was among 10 people who died when a private jet crashed near Moscow yesterday.

On the Sky News Daily, Niall Paterson takes a deep dive into what itmeans forVladimir Putin'shold on power,the war in Ukraine and whether it's the end of the Wagner group.

Niall is joined by our international affairs editor Dominic Waghorn and military analyst Sean Bell.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts


US imposing sanctions over 'forced deportation of Ukrainian children'

The US has imposed sanctions on 13 people and entities it said are reportedly connected to the forced deportation and transfer of Ukraine's children.

It is also taking steps to impose visa restrictions on three Russia-installed authorities over their involvement in human rights abuses of Ukrainian minors, the State Department said.

Ukraine estimates that Russian authorities have deported and/or forcibly displaced over 19,500 children from their homes since the start of the invasion last February.

"We're going to keep calling attention to it, keep identifying the individuals and institutions involved, and keep a highlight on it until these kids are reunited with their families or in a community that reflects their proper upbringing," James O'Brien, head of the State Department's office of sanctions coordination said today.

Among those hit with sanctions was Artek, which the US said is a Russian government-owned "'summer camp' located in Russia-occupied Crimea".

It said the summer camp takes Ukrainian children who are then placed in "patriotic re-education programs" and are prevented from returning to their families.

Artek's director was also among those sanctioned.

Also targeted was the advisor to the governor of Belgorod, the commissioners for children's rights in the Kaluga and Rostov regions, and the chairman of the government of the Chechen Republic, among others.

Russia has acknowledged having transferred thousands of children out of Ukraine, but said this has been done exclusively to protect orphans and children abandoned in the war zone.


1. Yevgeny Prigozhin: Wagner leader presumed dead after plane crash - BBC News
(BBC News)
2. We're talking 'mafia territory': Russian analyst on Prigozhin's death
3. Yevgeny Prigozhin: Five ways Putin could have blown his plane up | Russia Ukraine update
(Daily Mail)
4. Prigozhin 'shot out of the sky' in presumed assassination: what next | Ukraine: The Latest | Pod
(The Telegraph)
5. The Death of Prigozhin -The crash & its implications for Wagner, Africa, Ukraine & Russia
6. Prigozhin’s Death is a Nightmare for Russia
(Task & Purpose)
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