US sanctions Russian ‘mercenaries’

The US Treasury Department considers Wagner a transnational criminal organization and imposes additional sanctions on the Russian private military contractor.

“Wagner gunmen have engaged in a variety of serious criminal activities such as mass executions, rape, child abductions, and physical abuse in the Central African Republic and Mali,” the US Treasury Department said on Tuesday. /first.

The US Treasury Department declared Wagner to be a “major transnational criminal organization”. The move allows for the freezing of all Wagner assets in the United States and prohibits Americans from providing finance, goods or services to the military contractor.

The US Treasury Department also targeted dozens of organizations and individuals believed to be related to Wagner and founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian government officials, and individuals related to Moscow’s defense industry.

Russian officials and military contractor Wagner were not immediately available for comment.

Wagner's office opens in St.  Petersburg, Russia, November 4.  Photo: Reuters.

Wagner’s office opens in St. Petersburg, Russia, November 4. Photo: Reuters.

The Wagner Group was founded in 2014 and has about 8,000 employees as of April 2022. Western intelligence considers Wagner contractors “Russian mercenaries”, saying they have fought in Syria, the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali.

The US in December 2022 said that Wagner deployed about 50,000 fighters to Ukraine. Wagner contractors are considered to be better equipped and more seasoned than some units of the Russian military. They are believed to mainly carry out small tasks, which is different from the large-scale operation of the Russian military.

Washington imposed trade restrictions on Wagner in 2017 and December 2022 to limit the military contractor’s access to weapons. The European Union also imposed sanctions on Wagner in December 2021.

Mr. Prigozhin was indicted by the US Department of Justice in February 2018 on charges of interfering in the 2016 US election. He and his companies were also sanctioned by the US and Europe for a number of other activities.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby last week accused Wagner of “carrying out atrocities and widespread human rights violations”. Leader Wagner Prigozhin then sent a letter to the White House asking to explain why the US imposed sanctions on this military contractor, but there was no response.

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