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EU to formalize sanctions on Russian private military company Wagner Group

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EU to formalize sanctions on Russian private military company Wagner Group

OCCRP
Photo: OCCRP

Sanctions on the Russian private military company (PMC) ‘Wagner Group’ are expected to be formalized by EU foreign ministers today.

The new sanctions are directed predominantly against the PMC’s alleged human rights abuses in the Middle East and Africa and include a ban on travel to the EU and a freeze on assets held in Europe.

The Wagner Group, which the EU claims has tight financial ties to a long-time ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is deployed as the go-to mercenary group in Russia’s foreign wars. The clandestine group’s role in countries like Syria has so far provided the Kremlin with a political buffer against political conflicts over overt action.

Expect the punitive measures to complicate EU links and financial associations to governments which engage with Wagner. Brussels and Paris, for example, have threatened to pull their support for Mali after the country’s leadership stated that it is contemplating recruiting Russian mercenaries to help combat a jihadi insurgency–threatening France’s interests in the region.

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EU ministers are also expected to debate Russia’s military presence in Ukraine. A US proposal for a NATO meeting with Russia and possible ceding of parts of Eastern Ukraine to Russia has stoked fears in several Eastern European countries.

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