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EU greenlights sanctions against Russia’s Wagner private military company: media

A statue to a Russian mercenary, likely from the “Wagner” PMC, in Ukraine’s Russian occupied Luhansk (left) and Syria (right). Photo collage: Euromaidan Press
EU greenlights sanctions against Russia’s Wagner private military company: media
On 8 December, the Ambassadors of the European Union’s member countries decided to greenlight the EU sanctions against the Wagner group, a Russian private military company (PMC), according to a Twitter post by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Europe Editor Rikard Jozwiak.

In mid-November, the European Union’s foreign ministers agreed to develop a framework for possible sanctions against Russian mercenaries. The European Parliament later passed a resolution condemning human rights abuses by the private military company Wagner, blaming Russia.

EU parliament says Russia should bear responsibility for crimes of Wagner mercenaries, welcomes sanctions

Now that the ambassadors approved this batch of sanctions, it’s going to be adopted at the second ministerial conference in Brussels on 13 December, according to Radio Svoboda – RFE/RL’s Ukrainian office.
Yevgeny Prigozhin known as “Putin’s chef” at his Concord food catering factory in 2010. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The PMC Wagner is linked to the businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Moscow denies its involvement in this organization’s affairs. The EU had imposed sanctions against Prigozhin back in 2020.

The Wagner Group isn’t officially funded by the Russian military structures and isn’t listed on the register of legal entities, but its militants, according to a number of journalistic investigations, participated in operations in many countries.

Since at least 2014, mercenaries of PMC Wagner operated in all active conflict zones of Russian interest, including the east of Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Mozambique, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Cameroon.

Although mercenarism is illegal in Russia, the Wagner group thrives under the umbrella of the Russian defense ministry, which supplies the group with weapons and ammunition, and often transports Wagner mercenaries to conflict zones using Russian military transport aviation and navy. The Ukrainian security service SBU states that the PMC Wagner is a unit of the Russian army’s Main Intelligence Directorate.

Regarding the upcoming EU sanctions against the Wagner group, Rikard Jozwiak has added that

“It will also add 3 [people] associated with the group on its human rights sanction regime, 1 person on its Libya listings, 3 on its Ukraine list and 2 ppl [and] 3 entities on its Syria list. All from Russia.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin pictured with Dmitry Utkin ("Wagner") on the far right and other commanders of the Wagner private military company that fights on orders of the Russian military in Ukraine and Syria, but is not a part of it formally. This image is believed to date from December 2016.
Russian president Vladimir Putin (C) pictured with head of PMC “Wagner” Dmitry Utkin (L). This image is believed to date from December 2016.

According to Radio Svoboda, Rikard Jozwiak had earlier reported that the EU sanctions against the Wagner paramilitary group would target in particular:

  • head of the group Dmitry Utkin, a former officer of the Russian special forces
  • Stanislav Dychko, one of the contractors of the PMC in Syria
  • Valery Zakharov, involved in the actions of the PMC in the Central African Republic

Radio Svoboda says that these three are going to be sanctioned for human rights violations under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, established on 7 December 2020.

This regime enables the EU to target individuals, entities, and bodies linked to serious human rights violations worldwide. The sanctioned face the EU travel ban, freezing of funds, while the EU citizens and entities are forbidden to fund them both directly and indirectly.

The Syria-related sanctions were first introduced in 2011 in response to a crackdown on the Syrian civilian population, the list currently includes 287 people and 70 companies, mostly linked to the Syrian government and the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Now, for the first time, the EU is going to put two Russian individuals and three entities on this list.

Radio Svoboda says that these sanctions are expected to target Russians Andrey Troshev and Andrey Bogatov, Wagner members with ties to Syria, as well as the Russian entities Mercuriy, Velada, and Euro Polis, which had won energy service contracts for the Syrian government.

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