Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin “must have killed” Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and said there can be no peace negotiation with Putin on Ukraine.
Writing in a Daily Mail op-ed on Saturday, Johnson speculated about Prigozhin’s last moments, just days after a plane believed to be carrying the Wagner boss crashed in a field northwest of Moscow while en route to St. Petersburg.
It is not clear yet what caused the plane crash, but US and Western intelligence officials that CNN has spoken to believe it was deliberate.
“It can’t have been more than a few seconds between the explosion aboard the otherwise reliable Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet, and the moment the Russian thug blacked out in his vertiginous acceleration to earth; and yet in that instant I am certain that he knew with perfect clarity what had happened,” Johnson wrote.
“He knew whose hidden hand was sending him 28,000 ft down, to be immolated with the rest of his Wagner group companions in a fireball in the countryside of the Tver region north of Moscow – and then on downwards, of course, for the shade of Prigozhin: down, down to Hades and the Tartarean pit below.”
He went on to say that the man allegedly “behind the killing of Prigozhin” was “the very same man who authorised, for instance, the poisonings in the UK of Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal.”
“As the detonation sucked the air out of the aircraft’s cabin, I would wager that the last thought in the doomed dome of Prigozhin’s skull was ‘Putin!’, preceded by one of the many profanities in which the former jailbird and hotdog salesman was so fluent,” Johnson wrote.
The plane crash thought to have killed Prigozhin came exactly two months after the Wagner boss launched a short-lived rebellion in Russia.
Experts have questioned whether the Wagner group can survive without Prigozhin.
The Kremlin on Friday said that all necessary examinations, including genetic testing, were underway to determine whether Prigozhin was killed in Wednesday’s crash. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov vehemently denied claims that Russian authorities might have been involved. “All this is an absolute lie,” he said.
On Thursday, Putin said he had known Prigozhin “for a very long time,” and called him “a talented man, a talented businessman.”
In his op-ed, Johnson called it the “height of conceit” for Prigozhin to think Putin would forgive him for contesting his government.
“As we watch the chilling footage of that plane spiraling to earth, we are witnessing something historic. This is the violent liquidation – on TV – of his enemies by an existing head of state. I cannot think of another example of such ostentatious and uninhibited savagery by a world leader – not in our lifetimes,” Johnson wrote.
“The mask is now fully off. Putin stands exposed as a gangster, and his absurd televised ‘tribute’ to the dead Wagnerites is straight from the pages of ‘The Godfather,’” Johnson concluded.