The United Kingdom is about to formally classify the Russian mercenary group Wagner as a terrorist organization to increase pressure on Russia, the newspaper reported on Tuesday The Times.
Wagner’s mercenaries have spearheaded the months-long Russian assault on the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
The Ministry of the Interior has spent two months preparing the case and the ban was scheduled for a few weeksthe newspaper reported, citing a government source.
The British government declined to comment on their plans.
“The UK sanctioned the Wagner Group in March 2022. Although the government keeps the list of proscribed organizations under review, we do not comment on whether or not a specific organization is being considered for proscription,” a government spokesperson said.
The ban means that it would be a crime in Great Britain to belong to or promote the grouporganize or address your meetings and wear your logo in public.
According to the report, there is no evidence that Wagner or people linked to the group have been operating in Britain since the war in Ukraine began.
However, the newspaper claims, citing a government source, that there have been ‘suspicions’ the group helped smuggle money out of Britain following the imposition of financial sanctions on Russian oligarchs and allies of the Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Bakhmut it has been under Russian attack for more than nine months, with mercenaries from the Wagner Group leading repeated attempts to advance on what was once a city of 70,000.
The leader of the group, Yevgeny Prigozhinsaid in a social media post Monday that his troops were starting to receive ammunition needed to press their advance.
France urges the European Union to act
The information about the impending British designation of Wagner as a terrorist group comes after the french parliament ask the EU to formally classify the mercenary group as terrorist.
The non-binding and symbolic resolution was approved with the unanimous support from across the political spectrum.
Its author, ruling party MP Benjamin Haddad, has stated that he hopes it will encourage the 27-member EU to include Wagner on their official list of terrorist organizations.
“Wherever they operate, Wagner members spread instability and violence,” he declared in Parliament on Tuesday. “They kill and torture. They slaughter and loot. They intimidate and manipulate with almost total impunity.”
He said that they were not simple mercenaries driven by a “hunger for money”, but rather “they follow a broad strategy, from Mali to Ukrainein support of the aggressive policies of President Putin’s regime towards our democracies”.
The Ukrainian President, Volodimir Zelenskythanked the French Parliament and urged other countries to follow suit.
“Every manifestation of terrorism must be destroyed, and every terrorist must be condemned,” he added.
Being on the list of terrorist groups means that EU members could freeze the assets of the Wagner group and its members, while European companies and citizens are prohibited from dealing with the organization.
The humiliating moment when a Russian brigade flees from Bakhmut in full commemoration of Victory Day
French deputies asked to include the Russian Wagner paramilitary army in the list of terrorist groups of the European Union
A crude threat from Moscow forced the pro-Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Group to back down: they will not leave Bakhmut