The likelihood of the recent air crash in Russia, which resulted in the death of ten individuals including businessman and mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin, being a mere accident is increasingly diminishing. While Ukraine has denied any involvement, suspicions are now being directed towards Moscow and the FSB, Russia’s internal security special services. The possibility of a surface-to-air missile launch is being strongly considered.
Major international media outlets, including BFMTV, CNN, BBC, and France Infos, are aligning with the analysis of aeronautical experts that the Russian Embraer Legacy 600 did not simply crash on Wednesday, August 23, 2023. The first images captured by a resident of the neighboring village of Kuzhenkino raised doubts as smoke was seen escaping from one of the two Rolls-Royce AE3007 engines, indicating an explosion.
Aeronautical experts have pointed out that images released by Russian media suggest shrapnel-type fragments on both the rear of the business jet’s fuselage and its wing. While the accidental thesis must be considered first and foremost, the presence of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his right-hand man Dimitri Utkin on board the Legacy 600 during the tragedy makes the possibility of a criminal explosion of the AE3007 a serious consideration.
Several hypotheses are possible, including the installation of an improvised explosive device (IED) on board the twin-engine aircraft. The majority of specialists, however, are leaning towards DCA (air defense artillery). Whether accidental or intentional remains to be seen. An accidental hit on Prigozhin’s plane would have made him the most unlucky mercenary in military history.
The possibility of a civilian plane being brought down by missile fire is becoming increasingly significant and even dominant. The Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 shot down in Iran in January 2020 serves as a reminder that such an event is not impossible. A device like the Legacy 600 is an easy target for Russian DCA with no means of retaliation or avoidance.
Russia is one of the few countries where complete control of information is still possible, making this scenario increasingly realistic. However, it is important to remember that the Interstate Aviation Committee and Rosaviatsiya agency investigate independently of the Kremlin regime. It remains to be seen if they will uncover the truth behind the destruction of the plane and the death of its ten occupants.