The U.S. administration debates whether to declare the private military company Wagner, controlled by close Vladimir Putin's ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, a foreign terrorist organization, Bloomberg reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.
Such a decision would allow the U.S. to initiate criminal prosecutions against the group and its members, as well as seize its assets worldwide. The final decision on this has yet to be made, according to the sources. The White House and the U.S. State Department didn't provide comments.
Washington aims to curb the mercenaries’ involvement in Russia’s war against Ukraine and counter their increasing influence in Africa, Bloomberg wrote. Wagner Group group, as its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, is already sanctioned by the U.S., EU, and the U.K.
On Nov. 12, the Wagner-linked Telegram channel Grey Zone published a gruesome video showing a man called Yevhen Nuzhin being repeatedly beaten with a sledgehammer. In the video, Nuzhin said he had been recruited by the mercenaries to fight in Ukraine and surrendered to the Ukrainian military to take their side. It was not immediately clear who was behind the video, or how Nuzhin would have ended up back in Russia.
Wagner Group has been accused of human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial killings, in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, and Mozambique.