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The United States Government designates the Wagner Group as a “criminal organization”

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National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced this Friday, January 30, that the United States will designate the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary movement, as an international “criminal organization.” In addition, the US Department of the Treasury will impose financial sanctions on the paramilitary network. Wagner has acted on behalf of the Kremlin in conflicts in various countries, including the ongoing war in Ukraine, and is accused of serious human rights violations.

The United States raises its sanctions against Wagner, the Russian mercenary group.

The private military force, which has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been added to the list of criminal organizations in the United States, the White House announced on Friday, January 20.

A measure that exposes its members and collaborators to financial sanctions.

Specifically, the designation, provided for by Executive Order 13581, proposes the freezing of the organization’s assets in the United States and the prohibition of US citizens from supplying funds, goods or services to the movement that has fought on behalf of Russia in the past. conflicts in different countries, mainly in Africa, but also in Syria and currently in Ukraine.

“These actions recognize the transcontinental threat Wagner poses (…) In coordination with this designation, we will also impose additional sanctions against Wagner and his network of supporters on many continents next week,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced. in a press conference.

Two Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group provide security for the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, during a ceremony on December 1, 2019.
Two Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group provide security for the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, during a ceremony on December 1, 2019. © Clement Di Roma, France 24

The disposition of the Government of Joe Biden comes after the White House last week accused Wagner of receiving weapons from North Korea for its operations in Ukraine, although Pyongyang denied the accusations and the leader of the group, Yevgeny Prigojine, dismissed the information by calling it “gossip”.

“Through these actions and others to come, our message to any company considering assisting Wagner is: Wagner is a criminal organization that commits gross atrocities and human rights abuses and we will work tirelessly to identify, expose and target who help Wagner,” Kirby added.

Blow to the movement that supports Russia in Ukraine

These sanctions come just at a time when Wagner is taking a greater role on the Russian side in the midst of the war in Ukraine.

The private and unregistered military group in any part of the world has gone from helping the Moscow Army to even claiming presumed victories on the battlefield and the capture of territories.

The White House exposed that Putin trusts more and more in the paramilitary movement for his ambitions to conquer territories in the neighboring country, which causes tensions within the Russian Ministry of Defense.

US authorities estimate that the movement has some 50,000 troops deployed in Ukraine. Among them, 10,000 contractors or paid soldiers and 40,000 ex-convicts.

“Based on our information, the Russian Defense Ministry has reservations about Wagner’s recruitment methods. Despite this, we consider it likely that Wagner will continue to recruit Russian prisoners,” John Kirby said.

FILE- A man dressed in a camouflage uniform walks out of the Wagner Center, a project implemented by businessman and founder of the Wagner private military movement, Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of his office block in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Nov. November 2022.
FILE- A man dressed in a camouflage uniform walks out of the Wagner Center, a project implemented by businessman and founder of the Wagner private military movement, Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of his office block in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Nov. November 2022. © Reuters/Igor Russack/

This group, which has acted on behalf of the Russian government in conflicts in countries such as Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Mali, is accused of serious human rights violations, including mass executions and rape, according to UN investigations.

With Reuters and AP

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