White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday declined to say whether the US has officially implicated Russian President Vladimir Putin in the death of late Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin but noted the long list of those perceived as opponents to Mr Putin meeting early demises.
Speaking at Tuesday’s daily White House press briefing, Ms Jean-Pierre was asked about Mr Putin’s attendance at a funeral service for Prigozhin, who died earlier this month after his private aircraft broke up mid-air in Russian airspace.
US officials have said the break-up of Prighozin’s airplane was likely caused by a bomb planted on board.
But Ms Jean-Pierre did not say whether the US believes Mr Putin was involved in his former ally turned enemy’s death, and said attendance at the funeral was for the Russian leader to speak to.
“I don’t have any new assessment for you. But it seems pretty evident what happened here ... as the president said ... ‘there’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind,’” she said.
“We all know that the Kremlin has a long history of killing its opponent. That is the history of the Kremlin,” Ms Jean-Pierre continued, adding later that Prighozin — who she called “a cold-blooded killer” — had been killed less than two months after speaking out against frustrations with Mr Putin’s conduct of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“So, you know, it’s very clear. It’s pretty evident what happened here,” she added.
Pressed further on whether her remarks represented any new US government position on Prighozin’s death, Ms Jean-Pierre later clarified that she did not have “any new assessment” on the matter.