US President Joe Biden expressed his lack of surprise over reports suggesting that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, might have perished in a plane crash in Russia. While he acknowledged not having definitive information, Biden’s remarks underscored his perception of Russia’s political landscape. He asserted that very little occurs in Russia without the involvement of President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking to reporters after a family exercise session near Lake Tahoe, Biden stated, “There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind.” He conceded that he lacked sufficient details to ascertain the fate of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a significant figure in Putin’s sphere of influence.
The plane crash northwest of Moscow, in which Prigozhin’s name was reportedly on the passenger list, followed a period of turbulence for the Wagner group. Just two months earlier, Prigozhin had initiated a brief and ultimately unsuccessful insurrectionist march toward Moscow, with the aim of toppling the country’s military leadership.
In Helsinki last month, Biden playfully offered a cautionary note to Prigozhin, who leads the Wagner force that has played a significant role in the conflict involving Ukraine. Biden humorously remarked, “If I were he, I’d be careful what I ate. I’d keep my eye on my menu,” alluding to the potential risks Prigozhin might face.
Adrienne Watson, the spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, further emphasized the pattern of events leading up to Prigozhin’s alleged demise. Watson highlighted the June uprising and Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine as pivotal events that could have contributed to these recent developments.
Biden’s measured comments, reflecting his awareness of the complex dynamics within Russia, illustrate his cautious approach to diplomatic matters involving the country. The speculation surrounding Prigozhin’s reported death underlines the intrigue and uncertainty characterizing Russia’s internal politics and external actions.