Ukraine latest: Putin makes first comments since Prigozhin 'death'; photos emerge of 'crash victims' (2023)

Key points
  • Putin sends condolences after Prigozhin 'death'
  • What we know about the Prigozhin plane crash
  • Ukraine conducts 'special operation' in Crimea
  • 'Bomb in a wine crate' behind plane crash, former intelligence officer suggests
  • First photos of passengers emerge
  • Sean Bell:Plane falling from sky could not have been a natural accident
  • Photos from the scene this morning as bodies recovered
  • Watch: Moment jet crashes | Podcast:What does footage tell us?
  • Diana Magnay: Convenient for Putin if Prigozhin is dead
  • Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin?
  • Live reporting byLauren Russell


Putin sends 'condolences' to Yevgeny Prigozhin's family

In his first comments addressing the plane crash that reportedly killed Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and nine others, President Putin has sent his condolences.

The president went on to describe Prigozhin as a talented businessman who he has known since the 1990s.

He said Russia will look into what investigators say regarding the crash, but expertise on the incident will take time.

His comments come 24 hours after the jet crashed just north of Moscow.


Watch: Wagner fighter breaks down at memorial

Earlier, we reported that some Wagner Group members have made a makeshift memorial to Yevgeny Prigozhin in Novosibirsk.

In St Petersburg, flowers were also laid outside Wagner headquarters.

"It's like losing a father. He was everything to us," one Wagner fighter said.


'Second Wagner Group jet' lands in Azerbaijan

By Jack Taylor, OSINT producer

Another private jet reportedly associated with the Wagner Group, which flew near to the crash site yesterday,has just landed in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

It travelled from Moscow, taking off at 3:24pm local time. It is unknown who is on the flight or why it was scheduled.

Yesterday, it also left Moscow for St Petersburg around an hour before the crashed jet departed the capital and landedas it crashed.

It was only on the tarmac of the Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg for half an hour, before then returning to Moscow.

A manifest for these flights is not publicly available.


Will reported death of Prigozhin have impact on Ukraine war?

Despite the plane crash, which is believed to have killed Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and commander Dmitry Utkin - among others, the war in Ukraine will not be directly impacted.

In fact, it could be beneficial to the country in the long term.

Defence and security analyst Professor Michael Clarke explained that even though the Wagner Group were once fighting in Ukraine, they have already withdrawn from the front line.

"The Wagner Group made up about 25% of all those forces who were actually fighting, not 25% of the total number of Russians, but 25% of those on the front line fighting on a daily basis," Clarke said.

"So the benefit of having larger groups withdraw from Ukraine has already been felt because they withdrew a couple of months ago."

Clarke added that the increasing dysfunction within the Russian military could also become a benefit to Ukraine.

"The airborne forces were quite close to Wagner, the military intelligence are also close to Wagner.

"So what has happened to Prigozhin will not go down well with other bits of the command structure within the Russian military," he said.

Overall, this will benefit Ukraine in the longer term, but day-to-day it doesn't really make much of a difference.


Missile inside Russia likely shot down Prigozhin plane - US officials

Among speculation about the cause of the plane crash, two US officials have said they believe a surface-to-air missile originating from inside Russialikely shot the aircraft down.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity given thesensitivity of the matter, stressed that the information wasstill preliminary and under review.

The Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin are yet to comment on the incident.


Route of plane before crash

Based on the information provided by the Russian civil aviation authority, the plane - thought to have been carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin - was heading from Moscow to St Petersburg.

It then crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino, in the Tver region, 160 miles north of Moscow, Russia's emergency situations ministry said.

Signal to the jet was lost in a remote area without nearby airfields suitable for a safe landing.


In numbers: 18 months of the war

Today marks 18 months since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, 2022.

Here we take a look at the impact of the war in numbers: the lives lost, the territory taken and the people displaced.


More details emerge on what happened following plane crash

Residents in Russia's Tver region have described the immediate aftermath of yesterday's plane crash, believed to have killed Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Villagers said they heard a bang and then saw the jet plummeting to the ground.

One resident, Vitaly Stepenok, 72, said: "I hear an explosion or a bang. Usually, if an explosion happens on the ground then you get an echo, but it was just a bang and I looked up and saw white smoke."

"One wing flew off in one direction and the fuselage went like that," he said, gesturing with his arms to show how the plane headed down towards the ground.

"And then it glided down on one wing. It didn't nose-dive, it was gliding."

Mr Stepenok said he jumped on his bike and headed to the site.

"Everything was on fire. People were walking around. They dragged someone out, their remains... I couldn't make it out. I just saw the number on the plane, which I told them, and that was it."

Another villager, who gave his name as Anatoly, said: "In terms of what might have happened, I'll just say this: it wasn't thunder, it was a metallic bang - let's put it that way. I've heard things like that before."

A Reuters reporter at the crash site this morning spotted men taking away black body bags on stretchers.

Parts of the plane's tail and other fragments were scattered across the ground near a wooded area.

Forensic investigators had erected a tent and lightning gear.


Watch: Ukraine forces raise national flag in Robotyne

Ukrainian forces have raised the national flag in the settlement of Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia.

Ukraine said two days ago its troops had entered the strategic southeastern village, a potentially significant advance in its counter-offensive.

The Ukrainian flag is seen on the roof of a badly damaged building surrounded by burnt trees.

It is not clear whether the entire community has been liberatedfrom Russian forces.


What will happen to the Wagner Group now?

Various experts and analysts have today been weighing in on the circumstances surrounding the place crash believed to have killed Yevgeny Prigozhin and nine others.

Earlier, John Foreman, theUK's former defence attache in Moscow, said he believedPrigozhin was a "dead man walking" and the finger was pointed squarely at President Vladimir Putin.

What will happen to the Wagner Group?

Despite the reported death of their leader, Mr Foreman said the Wagner Group "died back in June" following the failed mutiny on Moscow.

But what now?

Following the mutiny, the soldiers "were given a choice to sign a contract making them available for tasking, or retire," Mr Foreman explained.

"Fighters who chose to stay, will likely be placed under the leadership of the Russian military intelligence, who will ensure the antics of Prigozhin are not repeated."

Mr Foreman said there is still lucrative work for the Wagner Group to be done in Africa, where some fighters were sent as part of a deal between Russia and Belarus following the mutiny two months ago.


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