US to designate Wagner Group international ‘criminal organization’
The U.S. is due to impose sanctions next week against the infamous Kremlin-backed Wagner Group mercenaries and its support network across the world, the White House said on Jan. 20.
Around 50,000 Wagner Group mercenaries, including 10,000 contractors and 40,000 convicts, are currently in Ukraine, according to National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, quoted by CNN.
“These actions recognize the transcontinental threat that Wagner poses, including through its ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity,” Kirby said.
The U.S. also released photos of Russian railcars traveling from Russia to North Korea back in November that could be a delivery of rockets and missiles for Wagner.
The Wagner Group is Russia’s most high-profile mercenary group and was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and confidant of President Vladimir Putin.
Along with the Russian military, the group has taken part in the battles for Soledar and Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk Oblast.
Since 2018, Wagner Group has commenced mining operations in the Central African Republic.
Profits from mineral extraction can reach up to one billion dollars a year, forming an additional channel for financing Russia’s war against Ukraine, according to Politico.
The 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.