France Calls on the EU to Designate Wagner as a Terrorist Group

Published: 11 May 2023

French ParliamentThe French National Assembly. (Photo: Elliott Brown, Flickr, License)

By Josef Skrdlik

The French Parliament unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday urging the European Union to classify Russia's mercenary group Wagner as a terrorist organization.

Wagner has been involved in various conflicts across Africa and has fought alongside the Russian army in Ukraine and Syria.

The resolution detailed multiple allegations of human rights abuses attributed to the private army. These include its alleged participation in the murder and torture of civilians in Ukraine's Bucha, as well as indiscriminate killings of civilians in the Central African Republic and Mali.

According to the resolution, Wagner has been a destabilizing force in many African nations, taking advantage of political unrest and orchestrating predatory actions against civilian populations.

Owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch linked to the Kremlin, Wagner has actively engaged in combat in Syria, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, and Mali.

In Mali, the group was contracted to support the fight against jihadist rebels after a rift between the Malian military junta and France.

The group gained international attention during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where it became notorious for deploying convicts and employing brutal tactics on the battlefield.

While the resolution is not legally binding and carries mostly symbolic weight, as Wagner has already been subject to EU sanctions since 2021, its designation as a terrorist organization would not have any additional policy implications.

In response to the French Parliament's resolution, Prigozhin accused French soldiers of raping 12-year-old girls and engaging in organ harvesting in the Central African Republic. He also claimed that Wagner had saved tens of thousands of lives in the country.

Lithuania and Estonia have already designated Wagner as a terrorist group, and sources from the U.K. government cited by The Times stated that London is planning to introduce a similar designation in the coming weeks.