MEPs have urged the EU to blacklist members of Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group, whereas itemizing its crimes in a number of battle zones.
The EU must impose “targeted EU sanctions against the relevant individuals and entities affiliated with the Wagner Group, as well as individuals and entities working with them,” they stated in a decision on Thursday (25 November), which handed by a whopping 585 votes towards 40.
The EU Parliament’s advice shouldn’t be binding on member states.
However France and the EU international service stated final week they have been sanctions after the Wagner Group appeared poised to start out operations in Mali, the place French troopers are already concerned in preventing Islamist cells.
The MEPs additionally referred to as “on the [EU] Commission to ensure that EU funds cannot under any circumstances be used by recipient countries to fund private military companies with such human rights records”.
They usually urged the Central Africa Republic (CAR), the place Wagner Group already had a big presence, “to cut all ties with the group and its employees”.
Thursday’s decision famous that Wagner Group, which has some 10,000 personnel, has been “involved in conflicts” in Syria, Sudan, Mozambique, Libya, the Central African Republic, Venezuela, and Ukraine.
It famous that the Kremlin was making an attempt to make use of the group’s shadowy authorized standing “to maintain plausible deniability regarding the actions and crimes committed by the group”.
But it surely voiced “firm conviction that the Wagner Group … should be treated as a proxy organisation of the Russian state” and as half of “Russia’s modern hybrid warfare”.
“The Wagner Group allegedly relies on Russian military infrastructure, shares a base with the Russian military, is transported by Russian military aircraft and uses military healthcare services … it is financed in part through multimillion-dollar catering and construction contracts for the Russian armed forces awarded to companies linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin,” the MEPs stated.
“Russia’s military intelligence agency GRU, its ministry of defence, and its consular services are fully involved in the funding, recruitment, training, and protection of Wagner operatives,” they added.
Additionally they listed “the gross human rights violations which have been documented [by the UN] and of which it has been accused” in current instances.
In CAR, this included “mass summary executions, arbitrary detentions, sexual violence, looting, enforced disappearances, and torture during interrogations” in its efforts to safe earnings from the nation’s pure assets.
In Libya, Wagner Group was “involved in war crimes, including summary executions of civilians and detainees, enslavement, the planting of internationally banned anti-personnel landmines, and the killing or maiming of civilians including children, for example in the al-Sbeaa village south of Tripoli”.
Wagner “mercenaries have committed and filmed gruesome crimes against the Syrian population, such as torturing, murdering, and beheading civilians near Palmyra”, the MEPs added.
And three Russian journalists have been “murdered” in 2018 whereas making an attempt to research its actions, they stated.
The EU additionally has navy and civilian coaching missions in CAR, Libya, Mali, and Ukraine.
However “EU missions and operations cannot properly deliver and achieve peace, security, and stability in partner countries when private security companies accused of gross human rights violations are operating simultaneously in the same country”, the MEPs warned.
In the meantime, EU states already blacklisted Prigozhin final yr for Wagner’s “delivery of arms as well as deployment of mercenaries into Libya”.
The 60-year outdated from St Petersburg was “a Russian businessman with close links, including financially, to the private military company Wagner Group”, who was “engaged in and providing support for Wagner Group’s activities”, the EU sanctions word stated.