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,” one source said.
“Putin as a leader cannot afford to be humiliated in the way that he was. Putin functions on two things: Loyalty above talent… and the consequence of betrayal”.
Another said: “All the mood music, all the habits, all the 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 “unsurprising”.
“Most people will jump to the conclusion that this isn’t an accident,” he said.
“I’m sure it’ll 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 on people who challenge his power base.”
He added: “We used to have a saying when I worked on the Soviet Union, which was that the wise line to take on Soviet Russia was that nothing happened by accident and one might apply that to this event.”
John Foreman, the British defence attache in Moscow from 2019 to 2022, told the Telegraph that Prigozhin’s death was “like some sort of Russian opera”.
“The timing is not accidental,” he said.
“Two months to the day Prigozhin had his march on Moscow, his mutiny, a few days later he’s dead. Mr Putin’s revenge has been served on Prigozhin. The speed with which the Russian system has acknowledged it strikes me as preorganisation has been going on.”
‘Only a question of time’
He added: “Putin is willing to take revenge against those who threaten him and sends a chilling effect to anyone who wants to come for him. It’s in the daytime, all over the media, anyone else thinking they would come for the tsar will think again. It shows the brutality and violence at the heart of the Russian regime, which is how he has stayed in power for so long.”
Orysia Lutsevych, deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia programme and head of the Ukraine forum at Chatham House, said: “If Prigozhin is indeed dead, as claimed, it is a logical development that follows a failed mutiny against the Kremlin.
“After the revolt that challenged Putin’s narrative about the invasion of Ukraine and undermined his stronghold on power, it was only a question of time and mode of Prigozhin’s elimination.
“Alive, he was always a threat and a reminder that Putin is weak. It remains to be seen if Prigozhin’s supporters just swallow a bitter pill or further grow their ranks. In any case, the conflict within security and defence agencies of Russia will only deepen, as Ukraine’s summer and fall offensive further degrades Russian armed forces.”
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