US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced today that the United States is sanctioning people and entities linked to the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, to weaken Russia’s power to fight Ukraine.
“The United States is sanctioning individuals and entities related to the Russian paramilitary group Wagner and its leader, Yevgeniy Prigozhin – including its main facilities and associated front companies, its combat operations in Ukraine, Russian weapons manufacturers and those who administer Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine,” Blinken said in a statement.
The official explained that this action is part of the United States’ objective “to weaken Moscow’s capacity to wage a war against Ukraine, to make those responsible answer for this aggression and associated abuses and to put more pressure on the defense sector of Ukraine”. Russia”.
In November 2022, he continued, “the State Department identified the Wagner Group (…) for operating in the defense sector and material associated with it in the Russian economy”, and the same group of mercenaries had already been pointed out by the the US Foreign Assets Control Agency (OFAC, of the Department of the Treasury) as “responsible for or complicit in or having been involved, directly or indirectly, in actions or policies threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty or the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
“Today, OFAC classifies the Wagner Group as a significant transnational criminal organization”, stressed Blinken, after last Friday the spokesman for the National Security Council of the White House, John Kirby, announced that the United States had designated the Russian paramilitary group as “a criminal organization that commits generalized atrocities and violations of human rights”, due to its activities in Ukraine, where it has “about 50,000 deployed elements”.
In a statement released today, the head of US diplomacy specified that “the pattern of serious criminal behavior by the Wagner Group includes violent harassment of journalists, humanitarian workers and members of minorities and harassment, obstruction and intimidation of UN peacekeepers in the Republic. Central Africa, as well as rape and murder in Mali”.
At the same time, added Blinken, “OFAC holds the Wagner Group (…) responsible for or complicit in or involvement in attacks on women, children or any civilians through the perpetration of acts of violence, or kidnapping and enforced disappearance, or attacks on schools, hospitals, places of worship or places where civilians have taken refuge, or through conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights or violation of international humanitarian law, in the case of the Central African Republic”.
In addition, he continued, “the State Department today identified five entities and one person as linked to the Wagner Group and Prigozhin”, explaining that the inclusion of these names in the North American “black list” “targets a variety of infrastructures- key to the Wagner Group” – including an airline used by the mercenary group, a propaganda organization linked to the group, and its front companies.
“OFAC is also listing people and entities based in the Central African Republic, the People’s Republic of China, Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates that are linked to the Wagner Group’s operations around the world”, he indicated.
Also joining the US “blacklist” are “three individuals, for their roles in directing the Russian Federal Prison Service, accused of facilitating the recruitment of Russian prisoners for the Wagner Group, (…) a Deputy Prime Minister who he is also the Minister of Industry and Trade and the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of the Rostov Region”, reads the statement.
Starting today, the list will include another person and four entities associated with Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin, who was sanctioned in December 2022, Blinken says; Serguei Adonev – a financier of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, from whom two yachts and a plane will be confiscated – along with several entities and people associated with him; and the company Aktsionernoye Obshchestvo Dalnevostochnyy TsentrSudostroyeniya i Sudoremonta (AO DTSSS) and eight of its subsidiaries, “known for building and maintaining the Russian Armed Forces, including its Pacific fleet”.
According to Blinken, the State Department will impose visa restrictions on 531 members of the Russian Armed Forces “for actions that threaten or violate the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine”.