EU slaps sanctions on Russian mercenary group Wagner
EU foreign ministers decided Monday to slap sanctions on Russian private military contractor Wagner as well as eight individuals and three entities connected to the group.
The sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes. The targeted people include Dimitriy Utkin, who is described in the legal announcement of the sanctions as “a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer” and “the founder of the Wagner Group” who is deemed “responsible for coordinating and planning operations for the deployment of Wagner Group mercenaries in Ukraine.”
Wagner first attracted international attention in 2014 when it supported pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Since then, it has been involved in conflict zones including in Syria, Sudan, Mozambique and the Central African Republic (CAR).
Western officials consider the group to be entangled with the Russian security apparatus, although Moscow has always denied any link. POLITICO reported last week that Brussels was planning to impose sanctions against the group.
“The activists of this group reflect Russia’s hybrid warfare. They present a threat and create instability in a number of countries around the world,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters.
A press release by the Council of the EU said that “the Wagner Group has recruited, trained and sent private military operatives to conflict zones around the world to fuel violence, loot natural resources and intimidate civilians in violation of international law, including international human rights law.”
The eight individuals are “are involved in serious human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings, or in destabilising activities in some of the countries they operate in,” the release said.