US designates Russia’s Wagner Group “transnational criminal organization”

The United States (US) has announced new sanctions against the private Russian military company -Wagner Group – adding a transnational criminal organization designation to the Russian group.

Wagner Group has been active in Libya since 2019, when its fighters joined the fighting led by Khalifa Haftar against Tripoli. It’s estimated that there are still over 2000 Wagner fighters in Libya.

US National Security Council’s (NSC) Coordinator for Strategic Communication John Kirby told reporters at a press briefing on Friday that in last December, the US Department of Commerce designated Wagner as a military end user, which means we expanded the entity listing of Wagner to ensure that it cannot access equipment anywhere in the world based on US technology or production equipment.

“Today, we are announcing additional actions that we are taking to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian invasion forces. First, the Department of Treasury will be designating Wagner as a significant transnational criminal organization under executive order 13581 as amended.” Kirby said.

Kirby said in coordination with this designation, the US will also impose additional sanctions next week against Wagner and its support network across multiple continents.

Since its inception in 2014, Wagner group has been considered a proxy group of the Russian state abroad, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The group rose to prominence during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

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