UNITED KINGDOM: The UK government is about to designate the Russian mercenary organization Wagner as a terrorist organization, making it unlawful to be a member or supporter of the group.
A draft order aims to declare Wagner’s assets as terrorist property and seize them, citing them as a “violent and destructive tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia” and a “threat to global security” due to its operations in Ukraine and Africa.
Home Secretary of the UK Suella Braverman argues that Wagner’s activities serve the Kremlin’s political objectives.
Wagner, a group involved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has been accused of crimes such as murder and torture of Ukrainians. The US claimed in 2020 that Wagner soldiers positioned landmines near Tripoli, Libya, and the UK accused them of executions and torture in Mali and the Central African Republic.
The future of the Wagner group was uncertain after its commander, Yevgeny Prigozhin, organized a failed uprising against Russia’s military authorities. Prigozhin, who created the group in 2014, died in a mysterious plane crash and was buried in St. Petersburg. The group’s name will now be included among banned organizations like Hamas and Boko Haram.
According to the Terrorism Act of 2000, the home secretary has the authority to outlaw a group if they think it supports terrorism. Before the legislation, terrorism-related organizations could only be banned in Northern Ireland.
The proscription order prohibits assisting terrorist organizations, including setting up gatherings, supporting their goals, or flying their flag. Violations can result in fines of up to £5,000 or 14 years in jail. MPs have called for sanctions on the group.
David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary for Labour, urged the government to ban Wagner, citing its responsibility for the atrocities in Ukraine and globally.
He welcomed the draft and said, “This is long overdue, but it’s welcome the government has finally acted.” He also called for the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Putin for his aggression.
The assets of Prigozhin and other senior leaders were frozen due to sanctions imposed by the Foreign Office.
Alicia Kearns, a Conservative MP and the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized the UK government for being complacent and lacking understanding of Wagner’s global reach, particularly in African states. She emphasized that sanctions are not sufficient and that the group must be proscribed as a terrorist organization.