US imposes new sanctions on Russia’s Wagner private military group

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The United States on Thursday imposed additional sanctions against Russian private military company the Wagner Group, which US officials say has been helping Russia’s military in its war in Ukraine.

The US Treasury Department said it designated Wagner Group as a “significant transnational criminal organization” as part of action targeting dozens of people and entities in an effort to degrade Russia’s ability to wage the war.

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“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 (CAR) and Mali,” the Treasury said in a statement.

The declaration freezes any US assets that Wagner may have and prohibits Americans from providing funds, goods, or services to the group.

Treasury also imposed additional sanctions on Wagner under another executive order, accusing the group of being responsible for or complicit in the targeting of women, children or civilians including through forced displacement, attacks on hospitals and other conduct in relation to the Central African Republic.

Washington also designated other entities it accused of supporting the Wagner Group’s military operations, including Russia-based Joint Stock Company Terra Tech and China-based Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute Co. LTD, and targeted entities and individuals linked to Russia’s defense industrial complex.

“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,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in the statement.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby last week said Russian President Vladimir Putin has been increasingly turning to Wagner for military support, causing some tensions in Moscow.

“We are seeing indications, including in intelligence, that tensions between Wagner and the Russian Defense Ministry are increasing,” he said. “Wagner is becoming a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries.”

He said the United States assesses that Wagner currently has about 50,000 personnel deployed to Ukraine, including 10,000 contractors and 40,000 convicts recruited from Russian prisons.

The US State Department on Thursday also designated dozens of entities and individuals, targeting those linked to the Wagner Group and its owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, as well as government officials and those with links to Russia’s military industrial complex, among others.

Read more: Russia’s Wagner boss asks parliament to ban negative media reports about his men

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