Lithuanian president: Prigozhin’s alleged death hardly changes anything

  • 2023-08-24
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Alleged death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, hardly changes anything and does not improve the security situation, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said.

“Prigozhin's death, if it is indeed confirmed, does not change much," the Lithuanian leader said in Kyiv on Thursday, according to comments published by the communication group of the presidential office.

"It demonstrates that the [Russian] regime is entering another stage and that these people, whatever you may call them, are now killing each other already, but we should certainly not think that this death of Prigozhin makes us feel calmer or that it somehow improves the security situation," the president added.

According to Nauseda, one of the goals of Wagner's mercenaries is to destabilize the situation in the region and try to stage provocations.

"(...) our task, our sacred duty, is to protect the security of our borders, because today it is the most important thing, and to be ready, without any doubt, to defend our security together with our loyal partners," he stressed.

Russia's aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, said late on Wednesday that Prigozhin was on board of a private plane that crashed earlier that day while en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Telegram channels linked to Wagner confirmed Prigozhin’s death but no official statement has been made yet.

Some experts urge caution and note that this information does not constitute confirmation of the death of Wagner's founder.

Meanwhile, France said on Thursday that there were "reasonable doubts" about the cause of the plane crash that presumably killed Prigozhin.

In late June, Wagner staged a short-lived rebellion in Russia, after which it was reported that Prigozhin and some of his fighters had moved to Belarus.

Minsk has claimed that Wagner members are training Belarusian soldiers.

Lithuanian and Polish leaders have said there are currently about 4,000 Wagner mercenaries in Belarus, with some of them stationed close to the two countries' borders. 

Rustamas Liubajevas, the commander of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service, has said, however, that there could be up to 4,500 of them.