British security sources believe that the shooting down of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private jet was carried out by the FSB intelligence agency on the orders of Vladimir Putin.
“Of course it’s Putin,” said one source.
“Putin, as a leader, cannot afford to be humiliated the way he was humiliated. Putin focuses on two things: loyalty over talent… and the consequences of betrayal.”
Another said: “All mood music, all customs, all history point to the FSB.”
The source added: “The FSB remains loyal to Putin.”
Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, told the Telegraph that news of Prigozhin’s death was “not surprising”.
“Most people will quickly jump to the conclusion that this is not an accident,” he said.
“I’m sure it will be presented as an accident and there will be an element of doubt, but everyone in the West will come to the same conclusion that this is Putin’s revenge against people who challenge his power base.”
He added: “When I was working on the Soviet Union, we had a saying that the sensible line for dealing with Soviet Russia was that nothing happened by accident and you could apply that to this event.”
John Foreman, Britain’s defense attaché in Moscow from 2019 to 2022, told the Telegraph that Prigozhin’s death was “like a Russian opera”.
“The timing is not accidental,” he says.
“Two months after the day Prigozhin had his march on Moscow, his mutiny, a few days later he is dead. Putin’s revenge has been served on Prigozhin. I am struck by the speed with which the Russian system has recognized this because there is pre-organization.”
‘Only a matter of time’
He added: “Putin is ready to retaliate against those who threaten him and has a chilling effect on anyone who wants to come and get him. It’s during the daytime, all over the media, that anyone who thinks they’d come for the Tsar will think again. It shows the brutality and violence at the heart of the Russian regime, which is why it has remained in power for so long.”
Orysia Lutsevych, deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program and head of the Ukraine Forum at Chatham House, said: “If Prigozhin is indeed dead, as claimed, it is a logical development following a botched mutiny against the Kremlin .
“After the uprising that questioned Putin’s narrative of invasion of Ukraine and undermined his stronghold of power, it was only a matter of time and method of eliminating Prigozhin.
“Alive, he was always a threat and a reminder that Putin is weak. It remains to be seen whether Prigozhin’s supporters will simply swallow a bitter pill or continue to grow their ranks. Either way, the conflict within Russia’s security and defense agencies will only deepen as Ukraine’s summer and fall offensive further degrades Russia’s armed forces.”
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