The Russian state-funded private military company is soon to be banned, identified as a “terrorist organization” in the UK.
In a decisive move, the United Kingdom has designated the Russian paramilitary organization, the Wagner Group, as a “terrorist organization,” putting it in league with notorious groups like al-Qaida and the Islamic State.
This decision, announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, not only criminalizes association with the group but also unequivocally condemns its actions as acts of terror against democracy and freedom worldwide.
UK’s Resolute Condemnation
Prime Minister Sunak announced the ban on social media, stating, “It’s right that today we are proscribing the group for what it is – a terrorist organization.” He went on to emphasize that the Wagner Group’s actions posed a severe threat to democracy and freedom worldwide.
Unleashed by Putin's Kremlin, the Wagner Group’s methods of torture, theft and barbarism are threatening democracy and freedom around the world.
It’s right that today we are proscribing the group for what it is – a terrorist organisation. https://t.co/ikW6ZfiQMy
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) September 6, 2023
The draft measures to ban the Wagner Group under the Terrorism Act 2000 are expected to be presented in Parliament soon, marking a significant step in the UK’s efforts to combat this mercenary organization.
The UK’s newly appointed Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, expressed his support for the ban, saying he is “pleased” by the decision. Meanwhile, Home Secretary Suella Braverman, in a statement on Tuesday, described the Wagner Group as “violent and destructive.” She argued that the group’s actions served the Kremlin’s political goals and labeled them “terrorists, plain and simple.”
Wagner Group and its History of Brutality
The Wagner Group, founded in 2014 by Yevgeny Prigozhin, has faced allegations of involvement in looting, torture, and gruesome murders. Initially shrouded in secrecy, this private military company gained notoriety for participating in various global conflicts – including the invasion of Ukraine and involvement in conflicts in Belarus, Sudan, and the Central African Republic, among many others – often acting as a covert tool of Russian foreign policy.
Wagner’s origins can be traced back to Prigozhin’s desire to create a private military force that could be deployed in regions where conventional Russian troops could not operate openly. As the group’s founder, Prigozhin played a pivotal role in its development, reportedly using his wealth and influence within the Russian government to secure lucrative contracts and covert missions.
Wagner gained prominence through its involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, where it operated alongside pro-Russian separatist forces. The group’s mercenaries were accused of participating in combat operations, espionage, and acts of brutality, including torture and summary executions. Furthermore, its activities in Ukraine served as an early indicator of its willingness to engage in covert and often ruthless military actions.
In subsequent years, the Wagner Group expanded its operations beyond Ukraine, becoming involved in conflicts in Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, and other regions. Its fighters were often deployed to support regimes or groups aligned with Russia’s interests, and their presence fueled concerns about Russian interference in various international conflicts.
Home Secretary Braverman characterized the group as “a violent and destructive organization which has acted as a military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas.”
The ban on the Wagner Group elevates it to the status of a terrorist organization alongside internationally recognized groups like al-Qaida and the “Islamic State.” Under the Terrorism Act, the home secretary holds the authority to ban organizations involved in terrorism, and this move makes it unequivocally clear in UK law that the Wagner Group falls into this category.
Braverman underscored the group’s global threat by saying, “The group’s operations in Ukraine, the Middle East, and Africa are a threat to global security.”
UK’s Commitment to Counterterrorism
In a related development, last month, the Financial Times reported, citing government insiders, that the UK would take steps to proscribe the Wagner Group as a terrorist organization as part of a fresh crackdown on the Russian mercenary network.
The head of the Wagner Group, Prigozhin, met an untimely demise in a plane crash last month. This occurred only two months after he led Wagner fighters in a short-lived mutiny against Russian defense forces and Putin’s inner circle. This rebellion, which was swiftly quashed, underscored the complexities of the group’s relationship with the Russian government and the extent of Prigozhin’s influence.
The UK had previously taken measures against individuals and businesses linked to the Wagner Group in Africa, imposing sanctions and accusing them of various crimes, including killings and torture.
The decision to blacklist the Wagner Group under anti-terror laws reflects the UK’s commitment to countering organizations that pose threats to international security and democratic values. It also sends a clear message that those who engage in acts of terrorism and violence will face consequences under British law.
The United Kingdom has taken a decisive step by designating Russia’s Wagner Group as a “terrorist organization,” placing it alongside notorious groups like al-Qaida and ISIS. This move, strongly supported by key government figures, reflects the UK’s commitment to countering the group’s global threat. The Wagner Group, founded in 2014 by Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been implicated in various conflicts and alleged human rights abuses. The ban elevates it to the status of a terrorist organization in UK law, emphasizing its threat to international security. This decision also follows previous sanctions against Wagner-linked individuals and businesses in Africa. The UK’s resolute stance underscores its commitment to combating terrorism and protecting democratic values.