Presumed Death of Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin

  • Outside governments are trying to figure out what caused Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plane to crash in Russia on Wednesday after Russia’s civil aviation agency declared Prigozhin was one of the 10 people killed when his plane crashed.  Officials say that in the short term, Prigozhin’s presumed death will likely strengthen Putin’s standing in Russia but, in the long term, may weaken him.  A U.S. official said, “Putin has a pretty clear track record of at least operating within his own country with impunity.  I don’t get the sense there’s any mechanism under which he’ll be held accountable…Just because people hate you doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to be out of power.” (Politico; further: AP News, NBC News)
  • On Thursday, Putin made his first remarks after Prigozhin’s death amid speculation that Putin ordered his killing.  Speaking about Prigozhin in the third person, Putin said that the Investive Committee of Russia “launched an investigation into the incident, and it will be carried out in full and reach a conclusion.” (Politico)
  • Politico reported that news of Prigozhin’s death has been “greeted in Ukraine with dark humour and jubilation,” cheered as a present for Ukrainian’s Independence Day and inspiring memes and sarcastic comments.  Ukrainian media expert Otar Dovzhenko said, “I am thrilled that people who killed or were responsible for killing thousands of Ukrainians have died.  And they will no longer kill any Ukrainian, nor will they escape punishment, which would be very likely if they survived.” (Politico)
  • Putin ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to Russia after the plane crash.  He also said that speculation that he had ordered Prigozhin’s killing was an “absolute lie.” (Reuters)
  • The EU has pointed to Prighozin’s death as a sign of Putin’s criminality and shows “Russia is a mafia regime.”  German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said, “It is no accident that the world immediately looks at the Kremlin when a disgraced former confidant of Putin suddenly, literally falls from the sky two months after he [Prigozhin] attempted a mutiny.  We know this pattern in Putin’s Russia: deaths, dubious suicides, falls from windows, all which remain unclarified—that underlines a dictatorial power system that is built on violence.” (EU Observer)

Operation in Crimea and Drones in Moscow

Drones in Moscow
  • Russia said that Ukraine attacked Crimea with 42 drones on Friday.  It also said Ukraine had fired a missile towards Moscow.  NBC reported that “Ukraine did not immediately comment on the reports and almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia or on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine.” (NBC News)
  • Russia said it shot down three Ukrainian drones headed for Moscow on Wednesday. (Politico)
  • Russia reported another drone attack in Moscow overnight Saturday, which forced the closure of three main airports in the city. (Reuters)  
  • On Thursday, Ukraine conducted an operation in Russian-occupied Crimea.  Ukrainian forces arrived by sea and inflicted casualties and damage to equipment. (Politico, Euractiv)

Ukraine’s Offensive

  • Bloomberg reports that Ukraine’s allies are worrying that the slow pace of Ukraine’s offensive may strengthen Putin, with Russia seeing advantages in a longer war.  European allies also worry that support from the United States may fade during the presidential election. (Bloomberg)
  • A commander told Reuters that Ukrainian forces believe they will be able to speed up their advance in the south after breaking through the most difficult line of Russian forces. (Reuters)

G-7 Support for Ukraine

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the G-7 will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, understanding that the war may be lengthy. (Bloomberg)

Training F-16 Pilots

  • U.S. training of Ukrainian F-16 pilots will begin in October in Arizona.  Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said that “the training provided by the United States will complement the F-16 pilot and maintenance training that’s already underway in Europe and further deepens our support for the F-16 Training Coalition led by Denmark and the Netherlands.”  In addition, Norway joined other European countries in pledging fighter jets to Ukraine. (Politico)
  • Further, the Netherlands said it will provide mine-hunter training to Ukrainian soldiers that will “help Ukraine clear the Black Sea and counter the undersea threats against national shipping.” (Euractiv)

Shelling in Ukraine

  • Shelling by Russian forces hit a cafe in northeastern Ukraine on Saturday, killing two civilians and wounding one.  Military intelligence from the United Kingdom said that Russia might “increase the intensity of its offensive efforts” around Kupyansk and Lyman to take pressure off its forces near Bakhmut and in the Zaporizhzhya region. (AP News)

European Commission Updates

Ukraine received money
  • The European Commission announced that it would transfer €135 million from the Neighbourhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument originally planned for Russia and Belarus to Ukraine and Moldova. (Agence Europe)
  • The European Commission announced that it would register a European Citizens’ Initiative to preserve and develop Ukrainian culture, education, language, and traditions in EU countries. (Agence Europe)

Ukraine’s Independence Day

  • Celebrations of Ukraine’s 32nd Independence Day happened around Brussels on Thursday, including at events hosted by Promote Ukraine, Ukrainian Voices RC, and Lingua Fortuna. (Brussels Times)
  • The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Ukraine through a video message, saying, “Ukraine’s strength lies in its people.  In their courage, their force, and enduring hope in a future of peace and prosperity in a united Europe.  They are an inspiration to all Europeans.” (European Union in Ukraine)  

Author: Sophie Adams-Smith, Media Analyst, Promote Ukraine

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