Joe Biden says 'not much' happens in Russia that 'Putin is not behind'

Joe Biden says ‘not much’ happens in Russia that ‘Putin is not behind’ after Wagner chief feared dead in plane crash outside Moscow and confirms he’ll be keeping an eye on the first Republican debate tonight

  • ‘I don’t know for a fact what happened but I’m not surprised,’ Biden said 
  • He spoke after working out and while drinking a banana blueberry smoothie 
  • Biden appeared to get lost after his workout, taking a wrong turn out of studio

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he wasn’t surprised by the plane crash that appeared to kill the leader of a revolt against Vladimir Putin and he indicated the Russian president was behind it.

‘I don’t know for a fact what happened but I’m not surprised,’ Biden said during his vacation at Lake Tahoe.

Biden spoke to reporters after he and his family had worked out at a Pelodog, a combination Pilates and cycle studio. He took a wrong turn coming out of the studio, having to double back to join his family and Secret Service detail.

And when asked if Putin was behind the crash of a plane where Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed as a passenger, Biden said he wasn’t sure and noted he had been working out for the past 90 minutes.

‘There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind. But I don’t know enough to know the answer. I’ve been working out for the last hour and a half,’ he said.

President Biden spoke to reporters after a workout and while drinking a banana blueberry smoothie

The president, who was carrying a banana blueberry smoothie as he spoke, also said he would watch the Republican primary debate later Wednesday night even though Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the race, opted to skip the event.

But he joked he had no expectations from the night, which is the first formal gathering of Republicans attempting to defeat him in next year’s election. 

‘I’m going to try to see — get as much as I can, yes,’ he said.

Asked what his expectations were, he smiled broadly and laughed: ‘I have none.’

Biden spent the afternoon at the wellness studio. He appeared to get lost upon exiting the studio in the Tahoe Valley, taking a wrong turn upon his exit.

He turned to his left and walked a few feet before turning around to go back the other way, grinning as he moved to join up with his Secret Service detail and his family to walk to the motorcade. 

The president, first lady Jill Biden, members of their family took a Pilates class followed by a spin class, the White House said.

Biden granddaughters Maisy and Naomi, along with Naomi’s husband Peter Neal, were spotted amonthe group. As was Biden’s daughter Ashley and Melissa Cohen, the wife of Hunter Biden.

At one point, Hunter Biden’s young son, Beau, ran along the sidewalk and into the fitness studio.

The president is on a week-long vacation to the mountain lake resort that straddles the California and Nevada state lines. 

He visited Maui on Monday to see the devastation from the wildfires but was criticized when he tried to relate to the victims by dredging up his own family tragedy and talking about a decades-old kitchen fire in his home.

He is staying with family, including his son Hunter, at the $18 million home of billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, following complaints that the rental may run afoul of a local county housing code.

President Joe Biden took a wrong turn after coming out a workout studio and turned back to go the other way

Jill Biden after the family workout

President Joe Biden waves his smoothie after his pilates and spin class

It was initially unknown if Wagner chief Prigozhin (pictured in a video reportedly filmed in Africa which was released on Monday) – known as the Wagner chief and with longstanding links to the Kremlin dictator – was on board 

Russian state media said Prigozhin was dead after a plane – with his name on the passenger list – crashed in Russia on Wednesday, two months after his failed coup attempt against Putin.

Video footage purportedly shows the aircraft falling out of the sky in the Bologovsky district in the Tver region, 60 miles north of Moscow. A burning wreckage, which appears to be of a plane, was later seen in a field, with unconfirmed images showing it completely ablaze.

Tracking data available for the crashed plane appears to show it rise to around 29,000 ft, before suddenly disappearing and dropping to 0 ft. 

Russian State TV Rossiya24 announced Prigozhin’s death, stating: ‘A private jet flying from Moscow to St Petersburg crashed.’

‘Ten people were killed. Yevgeny Prigozhin was among the passengers.’

The name of Dmitri Utkin, the Wagner mercenary group’s most prominent commander, was also on the passenger manifest of the plane that crashed. 

U.S. intelligence agencies had been surprised that Putin had not yet taken action against Prigozhin after his short-lived mutiny in June. And they could not confirm his death in the immediate after math of the crash.

Prigozhin’s Wagner force was a core component of Russia’s armed forces against Ukraine. 

The Wagner Group saw some of the worst fighting in the Ukraine, with numbers so depleted that Prigozhin recruited thousands of dangerous convicted criminals straight out of prison to join his forces.

Witnesses to the crash heard a loud bang before they saw the jet ‘fall from the sky’ – locals on social media are sharing these images of the aftermath, although it is unconfirmed at this stage if this is the plane 

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with tank gunner of the Russian army Alexey Neustroyev after decorating him with the honorary title of Hero of Russia at a Wednesday ceremony in Moscow

President Biden walks to talk to reporters after his workout class in Lake Tahoe

In late June, Prigozhin launched an unprecedented verbal attack on President Putin and his allies before marching 25,000 troops towards Moscow.

The mutiny was ended by negotiations and an apparent Kremlin deal which saw Prigozhin agree to relocate to neighbouring Belarus. But he had appeared to move freely inside Russia after the deal nonetheless. 

After the June munity, Biden said Putin had ‘absolutely’ been weakened. 

He also, at the time, joked that Prigozhin should be careful.

‘If I were he, I would be careful what I ate. I would be keeping an eye on my menu,’ Biden said. 

‘But all kidding aside, who knows? I don’t know, I don’t think any of us know for certain what the future of Prigozhin is in Russia,’ the president added. 

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