Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that autopsies of the victims of the plane crash that killed 10 people, including the leader of the Wagner group, found the presence of “fragments of hand grenades” in their bodies, which supports the president’s rejection of the theory that the plane crash was caused by an “external impact.” In addition, Vladimir Putin also gave details about the progress of his troops in Ukraine and flirted with the idea of conducting nuclear tests.
From the Valdai Discussion Club, in the Russian province of Sochi, the head of the Kremlin stated that “there was no external impact on the plane”, referring to the plane crash on August 23 in Saint Petersburg, which ended with the death of the owner of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, as well as two other senior executives of the mercenary company, four bodyguards and three crew members.
Regarding Prigozhin, the president stressed that the corresponding authorities should have carried out a toxicological examination of the victims’ bodies, after around five kilograms of cocaine were found in searches of Wagner’s headquarters weeks before the accident.
“In my opinion, such an examination should have been carried out, but it was not,” Putin said, refraining from revealing more details about the ongoing investigations into the event. Officially, the causes of the plane crash have not yet been revealed.
The Kremlin has rejected any accusation that points to the Russian Government as responsible for Prigozhin’s death, calling as “lies” the theories that argue an alleged revanchist act on the part of Moscow, in response to the failed mutiny of Wagner’s forces against Prigozhin. the top Russian military leadership last June.
“We did not start the so-called war in Ukraine”: Vladimir Putin
On the other hand, the president also addressed the progress of his troops in Ukrainian territory, ensuring that, since July, Kiev has lost around 90,000 men in the fighting, in addition to more than 900 tanks and military vehicles.
“Is that convincing or not? (…) We are proceeding to achieve our goals, and I am sure that we will achieve them and… All the tasks that we set for ourselves,” Vladimir Putin exclaimed during his speech, where he added that the confrontation between Moscow and Kiev is a product of the West having lost “touch with reality,” and that Russia is trying to end the war once and for all.
At the forum, the president covered more topics such as the future of mercenary organizations in his Government, the alliance with China and the state of the Russian economy. However, what surprised the world were Putin’s words regarding the possibility of Russia organizing nuclear exercises again, leaving the door open to exit the treaties that prevent them from taking place.
Back to the nuclear race?
Vladimir Putin does not rule out that Russia could carry out nuclear missile tests again, although he affirms that it would not be convenient for anyone, in addition to mentioning that, from his perspective, the nuclear threat is not an “existential threat” for his country, since He does not believe that anyone would make the decision to attack Moscow with atomic weapons.
“I believe that no person with a healthy mind and clear memory would think of using nuclear weapons against Russia,” said the Russian president, who, on the other hand, does not rule out the possibility of experimenting again with weapons of mass destruction, although he was clear in emphasize that he does not see “the need to do so” for now.
The president also made reference to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, signed by the United States and Russia, although only ratified by Moscow. Regarding this, Putin mentioned that American behavior and his refusal to ratify the document would be opening the doors, “theoretically,” to do the same.
“I am not prepared to say whether we really need to carry out tests or not, but theoretically it is possible to behave in the same way as the United States, (…) In theory, it is possible to withdraw this ratification. That would be enough,” said the Kremlin leader.
The conflict in Ukraine seems to have become a total dispute between the West and Russia. One where the nuclear threat is no longer totally off the map of options and where both sides have the capabilities to carry out, in the worst case, massive destruction of unimaginable proportions, although this scenario seems the least likely of all.
With Reuters, AP and local media
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