The Council of the European Union imposed sanctions against the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group as well as eight individuals and three companies linked with it for their destabilizing actions in Ukraine and several African countries, the EU council said on Monday.
The Wagner Group is a private military organization with no legal entity based in Russia, established in 2014 as a successor organization to the Slavonic Corps. Its founder and leader is Dmitry Valerievich Utkin, a former commando of the GRU (Russian Military Intelligence), referred to as Wagner.
The main financier of the Wagner Group, which is most similar to the mercenary group, is, according to the EU decision, Yevgeny Prigozin, a Russian businessman. Both Prigozin and Utkin have consistently denied having anything to do with the organization. In a 2019 interview, Prigozin said Russian legislation does not even allow for the existence of private military contractors.
The group sends its people to various conflict zones around the world after their own training, which is conducted at a Russian Army facility in the Krasnodar region.
According to the European Union, the Wagner Group is responsible for serious human rights abuses in eastern Ukraine, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Mozambique, including torture and extrajudicial, and arbitrary executions and killings. According to the European Union, the group aims to “incite violence, plunder the natural resources of the areas affected by its activities and intimidate civilians, in violation of international law, including international human rights law.”
Sanctions currently cover eight people, the entire Wagner Group and three companies affiliated with the group. As the EU council believes the group poses a threat not only to where it is present but also to the wider region and the European Union, the austerity measure is intended to limit the organization’s subversive activity.
Measures include a ban on entry into the EU and a freeze on EU assets. In addition, EU citizens and organizations are prohibited from making funds available to those targeted by the EU with sanctions.