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US designates Wagner Group as ‘transnational criminal organization'.
The U.S. Treasury Department on Jan. 26 designated the infamous Kremlin-backed Wagner Group mercenaries as a “significant transnational criminal organization” and imposed sanctions on its support network worldwide.
“Wagner personnel have engaged in an ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity, including mass executions, rape, child abductions, and physical abuse in the Central African Republic and Mali,” the Treasury Department said.
The sanctions announced by the Treasury Department on Jan. 26 target “six individuals and 12 entities” connected to Russia’s defense industry, along with allies and family members of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
“Today’s expanded sanctions on Wagner, as well as new sanctions on their associates and other companies enabling the Russian military complex, will further impede Putin’s ability to arm and equip his war machine,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said.
The U.S. Department of State also announced sanctions targeting “Wagner’s key infrastructure,” such as “an aviation firm used by Wagner, a Wagner propaganda organization, and Wagner front companies,” CNN reported citing U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
John Kirby, the National Security Council's coordinator for strategic communications, said earlier that around 50,000 Wagner Group mercenaries, including 10,000 contractors and 40,000 convicts, are currently in Ukraine.
The Wagner Group, Russia’s most high-profile mercenary group, was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and confidant of Putin.
Along with the Russian military, the group has taken part in the battles for Soledar and Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast.
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.