EU Sanctions Russian Mercenaries and Associates
The European Union adopted on Monday sanctions against a group of Russian private military contractors, accusing them of human rights abuses in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Africa.
Sanctions were also imposed against eight individuals and three companies connected to the mercenaries.
“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 European Council statement said.
The EU claims that the eight individuals listed in the relevant legal acts are involved in serious human rights abuses, such as torture and executions, in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and the Central African Republic.
The group is also believed to be spreading negative influence in the African Sahel region and represents a threat for people in the EU, the statement said.
The sanctioned individuals will be forbidden from travelling to the EU and their assets as well as the assets of the sanctioned firms will be frozen. In addition, people and legal entities in the EU will not be allowed to make funds available to them.
Russia denied the accusations made in the sanctions announcement and President Vladimir Putin said that the private mercenaries have the right to operate anywhere in the world as long as they obey Russian laws, Al Jazeera reported.
Among the targeted persons is a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer, Dimitriy Utkin, who is the founder of the group and responsible for “coordinating and planning operations for the deployment of Wagner Group mercenaries in Ukraine”.
The Wagner Group is believed to have the backing of Russian oligarch Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, who is close to President Vladimir Putin. A Syrian man has sued in Moscow members of the group for war crimes, accusing them of cruelly killing his brother in Syria.