The Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is “very likely” dead according to British intelligence services. There is still no definitive proof that Prigozhin was on board the crashed plane, especially since he always takes extraordinary security measures, the British Ministry of Defense emphasized. But Prigozhin’s death would profoundly destabilize Wagner’s private army, London said.

“His personal characteristics such as hyperactivity, exceptional boldness, focus on results and extreme brutality shaped Wagner and should not be equaled by any successor,” the British ministry said. The leadership vacuum at Wagner would be exacerbated if reports were true that founder and field commander Dmitry Utkin and logistics chief Valery Chekalov are dead.

The British Ministry of Defense has published daily information on the course of the war since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine in February 2022. Moscow accuses London of disinformation.