US is weighing a terrorism label for Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration is weighing whether to put a Russian label on it Wagner Corporation As a foreign terrorist organization, two people familiar with the matter said, as part of efforts to thwart the private military company’s involvement in Ukraine and its growing presence there. Africa.
The administration has not made a final decision on the appointment, said people who requested anonymity to discuss private discussions. Labeling Wagner as a foreign terrorist organization would allow the United States to criminally prosecute the group and its members, and trace its assets globally.
Action against Wagner would mark a new US effort against a group that has gained prominence and power globally, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, as Russia Their mercenaries played an important role in the war. Leader, Yevgeny Prigozhinconsidered a major ally and supporter of the President Putin and his war effort in Ukraine. He is known as “Putin’s chef” because his catering business hosts dinners attended by the Russian president.
A State Department spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to confirm discussions about Wagner but said the United States would continue to hold those responsible for Russia’s war accountable. . Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not respond to a message requesting comment. The Russian government has denied any official links to Wagner in the past.
Prigozhin and Wagner were sanctioned by the US, UK and the European Union, although the group only continued to gain power and influence.
In September, Prigozhin admitted for the first time that he had founded the group and that it was active in Syria and other Arab countries, as well as Africa and Latin America. He called it “one of the pillars of our homeland.”
Russian state television has highlighted the group’s role in Ukraine. In September, a video emerged of a man who resembled Prigozhin offering early release to prisoners who had survived six months of fighting on the front in Ukraine.
Western officials are also increasingly worried about Wagner’s presence in parts of Africa. The United Nations announced in March that it was investigating human rights abuses in Mali by Wagner mercenaries, whose deployment in the West African country prompted France and its allies to withdrawal.
Sanctioning the Wagner Corporation could help the White House deflect pressure from some US lawmakers, who have called on the Biden administration to designate Putin’s government as a state sponsor of terrorism. In July, the Senate unanimously passed a non-binding resolution urging Biden to do so. US officials have argued that existing sanctions have achieved similar results and that the designation could have unintended consequences such as blocking humanitarian dealings with Russia.
In an article in June, two former officials of the Central Intelligence Agency called for Wagner to be designated a foreign terrorist organization, saying that doing so “would make a significant part of the US criminal law The period comes into play.”
James Patrila and Phil Wasielewski wrote on the Lawfare blog: “This is an important and necessary step to end the Wagner Group’s interest in the Kremlin and, therefore, its very existence.”


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