Vladimir Putin has ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state, amid anger within the mercenary group’s ranks over their chief’s obvious assassination in a plane crash close to Moscow.
The decree was revealed on the Kremlin’s web site and signed with rapid impact by Mr Putin, as his spokesperson Dmitry Peskov insisted that claims Prigozhin had been killed on the Russian president’s orders have been an “absolute lie”.
The wording of the oath features a line during which those that take it promise to strictly comply with the orders of commanders and senior leaders, as questions grasp over the destiny of the mercenaries – many of whom had already relocated to Belarus following their mutinous march on Moscow in June.
Russia has opened an investigation into the plane crash, however has not but formally confirmed the identities of the ten our bodies recovered from the wreckage. Nonetheless, Mr Putin has appeared to eulogise Prigozhin – utilizing the previous tense – as a “gifted businessman” who made “severe errors”.
Mr Peskov informed reporters on Friday that it was unclear how lengthy the investigation would take and insisted it was due to this fact “not possible to discuss” whether or not Mr Putin would attend Prigozhin’s funeral, including: “The one factor I can say is that the president has a quite busy schedule in the meanwhile.”
Nigel Gould-Davies, a former British ambassador to Belarus, mentioned the funeral could be important. “If Putin needs to emphasise that Prigozhin died as a traitor, he’ll ignore it,” he mentioned, including that the event “might strengthen the hostility of a core of Wagner loyalists in the direction of the Kremlin”.
Nonetheless, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, who appeared to assist dealer the deal which noticed Wagner relocate to Belarus, additionally sought to insist that the plane crash was “simply too tough and unprofessional a job” for his ally Mr Putin to be behind it.
In remarks quoted by state information company Belta, Mr Lukashenko claimed he had warned Prigozhin throughout the mutiny that he would “die” if he continued his march on Moscow, to which he replied: “To hell with it – I’ll die.”
His claims got here as Moscow’s three predominant airports have been compelled to shut briefly on Saturday morning as native mayors and governors reported drone assaults in Moscow and two areas bordering Ukraine. No accidents have been reported.
In the meantime, Ukraine mentioned two civilians have been killed and one other wounded as Russian troops shelled a restaurant within the suburbs of Kupiansk, the place fears are rising of a second Russian takeover lower than a yr after the town was liberated – and proof of torture chambers and mass graves uncovered.
On the different finish of the frontline, Ukraine was reported to have made additional features close to the Zaporizhzhia village of Robotyne, the place they’ve damaged via Russia’s closely mined first line of defence.
The Institute for the Examine of Battle mentioned geolocated fight footage indicated that Ukrainian forces had moved southward by 1.5km to a tree line northeast of Novopokropivka.
The assume tank’s Russia analyst George Barros mentioned Kyiv’s troops now seem to be inside 2.5km (1.5 miles) of an unlimited anti-vehicle ditch, which he described as “the subsequent main army engineering impediment inside the Russian layered defence”.
Ukraine additionally mourned the loss of three Ukrainian pilots killed as two coaching plane collided within the skies some 144km (90 miles) west of Kyiv.
In his nightly deal with, President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned he had ordered an investigation into the deadly crash, as he hailed one of the pilots – whose callsign is “Juice”, and who has made a number of media appearances – as having “tremendously helped our state”.
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s air drive described the fallen pilot as a “mega expertise”, including: “You may’t even think about how a lot he needed to fly an F-16. However now that American planes are literally on the horizon, he won’t fly them.”
Extra reporting by companies