The European Union Ambassadors approved the imposition of sanctions against members of the Russian Private Military Company (PMC) Wagner Group.

“EU Ambassadors have today decided to green light sanctions against the Wagner group. It will also add 3 people associated with the group on its human rights sanction regime, 1 person on its Libya listings, 3 on its Ukraine list and 2 people and 3 entities on its Syria list. All from Russia,” Rikard Jozwiak, Europe Editor at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, posted on Twitter.

Earlier, he informed that the sanctions would be imposed on Russian former special forces officer Dmitry Utkin, one of PMC’s contractors in Syria Stanislav Dychko, and Valery Zakharov, a person involved in PMC’s actions in the Central African Republic.

According to media reports, the document explicitly states that Wagner Group is funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a man close to Vladimir Putin.

The sanctions are yet to be agreed at a ministerial congress in Brussels on 13 December and then published in the Official Journal of the European Union, after which the restrictions will take effect.

On 25 November, the European Parliament members passed a resolution on human rights violations by Russian Wagner Group mercenaries, acknowledging that it was the Russian authorities who were responsible for the crimes committed by this formation. In total, 585 MEPs voted in favour of the document, 40 MEPs voted against, and 43 MEPs abstained.

The resolution notes that the Wagner Group is present in many conflicts around the world, notably in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Mozambique, Libya, the Central African Republic and Venezuela. Given their track record of violations, MEPs welcome the statement made by EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on the imminent adoption of targeted EU sanctions against “relevant individuals and entities affiliated with the Wagner Group”, as well as individuals and entities working with them.

As a reminder, Dmitry Utkin, the PMC’s head a.k.a. Wagner, is a colonel of Russian intelligence, a veteran of the Chechen wars, and a participant in Russian military operations in Ukraine. According to journalists, it was for his participation in the war in Donbas that Utkin received an award from the President of Russia.

Wagner Group is not part of Russia’s regular troops, it does not officially exist at all. The Kremlin also denies the existence of such a PMC.

According to the Bild German media outlet, the total number of mercenaries of this company reaches 2,500 people, many of them have a criminal record. The fighters undergo training in a camp near Krasnodar and then are sent to conflict zones Russia is interested in.

Bohdan Marusyak

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