Two planes linked to Wagner CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin landed at a Belarusian air base near the country’s capital on Tuesday morning, according to BlackSky satellite imagery.
About this writes CNN.
Prigozhin’s exact whereabouts are still unknown. He was not seen on video or in photographs after he left the military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don on Saturday night.
However, Belarusian state media quoted Belarusian President Oleksandr Lukashenko as saying on Tuesday that Prigozhin was in Belarus.
A satellite image taken Tuesday morning by BlackSky shows the two planes — with serial numbers RA-20795 and RA-02878 — sitting on the airfield at Machulyshchi Air Base near Minsk. Additional satellite images from BlackSky, as well as CNN’s analysis of aircraft measurements, confirmed that the planes had arrived within the last 24 hours and matched the size of the planes linked to Prigozhin.
Flight tracking data from FlightRadar24 showed that the planes landed near Minsk around 8 a.m. local time. Before landing, both planes had their transponders turned off, which hid the exact landing place.
Two sources — a senior European intelligence official and a source familiar with Prigozhin’s planes — confirmed to CNN that the planes were linked to Wagner’s boss, but did not know if Prigozhin was on board.
Prigozhin’s aircraft movements have been closely monitored since his coup attempt last weekend.
On Sunday afternoon, Prigozhin’s plane RA-20795 flew to Rostov-on-Don from St. Petersburg. FlightRadar24 tracking data does not show that the plane Prigozhin was piloting landed in the city on Saturday, but it does make an abrupt turn toward the city before its transponders are turned off.
About five hours later, the plane’s transponders were reactivated and it was seen leaving the Rostov-on-Don area, heading back to St. Petersburg.
Then, at 1:03 a.m. this morning, the same plane appeared to be on the same flight to the Rostov-on-Don area, and again turned off its transponders before landing.
The plane reappeared on radar at 5:32 a.m. local time, apparently leaving the Rostov-on-Don area, and began a circular flight around Ukraine and southern Russia in the direction of Minsk. The transponders went off again at 7:37 a.m. local time as it began its descent into the Minsk area.
The second plane, Ra-02878, made a flight from one Moscow airport to another on Sunday afternoon: Sheremetyevo Zhukovsky International Airport. On Monday, he flew from Moscow to St. Petersburg, landing at 1:26 p.m.
This morning at 6:44 this plane took off from St. Petersburg. The transponders were turned off at 7:55 a.m. local time when it began its descent into the Minsk region.
In the evening of June 24, a video of the apparently defeated rear positions of “Wagner” is spreading on the Internet. Meanwhile, Prigozhin blames the attacks on the Russian army, mentions many dead and announces a march to Moscow to personally deal with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
Having captured a number of cities on the way to the capital, he changed his mind that evening and turned the columns of the “Wagnerians” back to the field camps. This was allegedly facilitated by negotiations with the self-proclaimed president of Belarus, Oleksandr Lukashenko. However, some mass media claim that the head of PMK “Wagner” actually held talks with a close associate of President Putin, the former deputy minister of defense and current governor of the Tula region Oleksiy Dyumin.