The Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary company, as well as eight individuals and three other energy companies in Syria, have been sanctioned by the European Union on the ground of helping finance the mercenaries in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine.
The notorious group, whose members are mostly former service personnel, have been accused by the EU of human rights abuses, expressing they carried out clandestine operations on the Kremlin’s behalf.
In its official journal, listing torture and extrajudicial executions, the EU announced: “The Wagner Group is responsible for serious human rights abuses in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, and Mozambique.”
In reaction to the decision, diplomats have expressed that the travel bans and asset freezes, which are designed to limit any governments from working with the Wagner Group, are unlikely to have a big impact in Moscow, but illustrate a hardening of EU policy towards Russia.
Dimitriy Utkin, a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer who is also the founder of the Wagner Group and responsible for “coordinating and planning operations for the deployment of Wagner Group mercenaries in Ukraine,” is among those targeted by the latest EU sanctions.
Western governments and United Nations experts have accused the Wagner Group of human rights abuses in the Central African Republic and involvement in the conflict in Libya.