Lithuania labels Russia’s Wagner mercenary group a ‘terrorist organization’

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Lithuania on Tuesday labelled Russia’s Wagner mercenary group a “terrorist organization” for its activity in Ukraine, where it has been fighting alongside the Russian army.

Mercenary outfits like Wagner, which claims to be spearheading Moscow’s assault on the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, have gained a large public profile in recent months.

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Lithuania’s parliament adopted a resolution saying “Wagner is a terrorist organization” and called on other countries to do the same.

The resolution said Wagner has “committed systematic and serious crimes of aggression which are equated with terrorism, such as the killing and torturing of the civilian population of Ukraine, bombardment of residential buildings and other civilian objects.”

Ukraine took to Twitter to express its gratitude to Vilnius.

“Thanks to the Lithuanian Seimas (parliament) for passing a resolution designating the Russian ‘Wagner’ PMC as a terrorist organization,” said Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office.

“Others should follow suit. Should call culprits culprits,” he tweeted in English.

Lithuanian lawmaker Laurynas Kasciunas told AFP that the EU and NATO member is the second country in the world to release such a statement, following neighbor Estonia.

Estonia’s parliament adopted a statement in October declaring Russia “a terrorist regime” and calling Wagner a “terrorist organization.”

According to Lithuania’s resolution, Wagner also poses a threat to the country’s national security.

Lithuanian intelligence services said last week that Russian mercenary groups would be capable of carrying out limited-scale operations against European countries.

In their annual report, the intelligence services said Wagner’s “efforts could include non-kinetic activities, such as reconnaissance and intelligence gathering on critical infrastructure” as well as “subversive actions, sabotage” or provoking social unrest.

Read more:

Explainer-Bakhmut: Why Russia and Ukraine are battling so hard for one small city

Russia’s Prigozhin says Wagner controls all of eastern part of Bakhmut

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