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Initial US intelligence reports suggest the plane carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin was not downed by a surface-to-air missile, according to people briefed on the findings.
US officials are still working on the assumption that the plane was brought down on the orders of Vladimir Putin, even as Russia’s president broke his silence on the crash to laud Prigozhin’s record as leader of the Wagner paramilitary group.
One early theory is there could have been an explosion on board, but officials cautioned that they had not come to firm conclusions.
“We have no information at this time to suggest that a surface-to-air missile was launched against the private aircraft reportedly carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin,” a senior US administration official said. Read the full story for more on the initial intelligence reports.
Warlord’s right-hand man: The fatal plane crash also eliminated Dmitry Utkin, Wagner’s mastermind and founder, who was credited with some of the group’s most notable — and gruesome — military successes.
Wagner in Africa: Russia’s ability to maintain mercenary deployments on the continent is now in doubt after the death of the paramilitary group’s leader.
Putin reigns supreme: Hopes that the Wagner boss might have punctured the Russian president’s omnipotence have turned to dust, writes Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center.
War in Ukraine: The US will begin to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets in Arizona this autumn, the Pentagon has said.
Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:
EU digital rules: Regulations policing content on platforms such as Google, TikTok and Instagram come into force today. Tech companies have been racing to implement new measures ahead of the deadline.
UK utilities: Energy regulator Ofgem announces the price cap for gas and electricity running from October to the end of December.
Jackson Hole: US Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell and his European counterpart Christine Lagarde speak at the central bankers’ gathering in Wyoming. US stocks fell yesterday after a senior Fed official warned interest rates could remain higher for longer.
How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.
Five more top stories
1. Donald Trump has surrendered to authorities in Atlanta, Georgia, where he faces 13 criminal charges over alleged attempts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election. The former US president and Republican frontrunner in the 2024 White House race was booked in Fulton County and photographed before being released on a $200,000 bond. See his mug shot here.
2. Exclusive: Nigel Adams was involved in placing Boris Johnson’s relative as a candidate to run the British Council. The former prime minister’s close ally was among those within the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office involved in the recruitment process that put Canadian multimillionaire Sam Blyth, a distant cousin of Johnson, on a shortlist. Here’s more from emails obtained by the Financial Times.
3. Exclusive: Lex Greensill’s family has quietly invested in a sustainable coconut waste start-up, the disgraced financier’s first known investment since the collapse of his eponymous lending company. The start-up, called Panthera Global Activated Carbon, claims to make environmentally friendly carbon products from discarded coconut husks. Read more on the start-up’s other backers.
4. The Brics emerging market bloc has launched the biggest expansion in its history as Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were invited to join. The expansion represents a victory for China, which pushed for rapid expansion of the grouping before the summit as part of its ambitions to lead the developing world.
5. Hedge funds that try to make money by betting on prevailing trends in global markets are struggling to repeat their bumper 2022, posting losses of close to 10 per cent to date, as violent swings in asset prices and rapid shifts in investors’ interest rate expectations throw them off balance. Here’s more on the woes of so-called commodity trading advisers.
The Big Read
“De-dollarisation” has been on anti-imperialists’ radar for decades, but the overwhelming power of the US currency meant it amounted to little more than a slogan until recently, economists say. With the expansion of US economic sanctions and the explosion of new technologies for international payments, cracks are starting to appear in the dollar’s once-impregnable position — and China is hoping to take advantage.
We’re also reading . . .
Chart of the day
Lower energy prices and accelerating wage growth helped push up UK consumer confidence this month, beating forecasts to recover most of the ground lost last month and returning to about the levels seen at the start of last year.
Take a break from the news
Chefs and food producers are reducing their use of salt across the board, likely catering to a significant proportion of worried consumers who have been convinced that if food tastes perceptibly salty, they will surely die. But FT food writer Tim Hayward wants his salt back.
Additional contributions from Benjamin Wilhelm, David Hindley and Leah Quinn