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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Wagner Group Declared Terrorist Organization by U.K.

The Home Office states that Wagner has operated in the pursuit of Russia’s foreign policy objectives and the objectives of host governments who have contracted Wagner’s services.

A draft proscription order is being laid in U.K. Parliament today, September 6, making it illegal to support Wagner Group and punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

The British Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has today laid a draft order before Parliament which would proscribe Wagner Group under the Terrorism Act 2000. The Home Office says Wagner Group is a proxy military force of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which operates across the globe.

Once agreed, the order will come into force on September 13, making it a criminal offense to belong to, encourage support for, assist or use the logo of that group. Certain proscription offenses can be punishable by up to 14 years in prison, which can be handed down alongside or in place of a fine.

Wagner’s assets can also be categorized as terrorist property and seized.

“Wagner is a violent and destructive organization which has acted as a military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas,” Braverman said. “While Putin’s regime decides what to do with the monster it created, Wagner’s continuing destabilizing activities only continue to serve the Kremlin’s political goals.

“They are terrorists, plain and simple – and this proscription order makes that clear in U.K. law. Wagner has been involved in looting, torture and barbarous murders. Its operations in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa are a threat to global security.

“That is why we are proscribing this terrorist organization and continuing to aid Ukraine wherever we can in its fight against Russia.”

The Home Office describes Wagner Group as a Russian private military company which has acted as a proxy military force on behalf of the Russian state. Founded in 2014, Wagner has operated in a series of countries including most notably Ukraine, Syria, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Mozambique and Mali.

The Home Office states that Wagner has operated in the pursuit of Russia’s foreign policy objectives and the objectives of host governments who have contracted Wagner’s services.

The U.K. has consistently called out the violent and destructive actions of Wagner Group, and included the group in a first wave of sanctions against Russia in early 2022, and more recently sanctioned an additional 13 individuals and businesses linked to the actions of the group in July 2023.

“Proscription names Wagner Group for what they truly are: terrorists,” U.K. Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said. “This is a murderous organization which is responsible for committing atrocities across the world. Proscribing Wagner sends a clear message that the UK will not tolerate Russia’s proxies and their barbaric actions in Ukraine, and condemns Wagner’s campaign of corruption and bloodshed on the African continent, which has been repeatedly linked to human rights violations.”

Proscribing the group comes after the Home Secretary’s careful consideration of the nature and scale of organization’s activities, the threat posed to British nationals overseas, and the need to support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism.

Despite recent events, including the group’s attempted coup against Moscow and the alleged death of its leadership, the threat from Wagner Group continues to endure.

Designating the Wagner Group for proscription is also a response to requests made by Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy who has called for the group to be treated as a terrorist organization. 

The order will be debated in Parliament this week and once passed, as is expected, Wagner Group will become the 79th organization to be proscribed in the U.K. Other groups who have been proscribed by the British government include al-Qaeda, ISIS and Hizballah.

Read more at the Home Office

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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