October 1, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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The European Union punishes the Russian mercenary army for its "destabilizing actions" against Ukraine

The European Union punishes the Russian mercenary army for its “destabilizing actions” against Ukraine

European Union foreign ministers voted unanimously today in favor of the sanctions, which also target eight people. The measure means that they will no longer enter the European Union. Any assets they have in the European Union have also been frozen.

The main target of European sanctions is Wagner, a private army with close ties to the Kremlin. The mercenary army, which is largely made up of ex-soldiers and former members of the Russian security services, is part of the business empire of Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as “Putin’s cook”.

Ukraine

Sanctions also apply to the commander of the mercenary army, Dmitry Utkin, a former officer of the GRU. According to EU ministers, he was responsible for coordinating the Wagner military operation in Ukraine, where mercenaries fought on the side of pro-Russian separatists.

The Kremlin uses Wagner as a kind of shadow army, which allows it to carry out operations for which it denies responsibility. Prigozhin’s mercenaries also helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fight rebels against his rule. Sometimes they committed war crimes.

In exchange for their help, Wagner was awarded lucrative contracts for the exploitation of oil, gas and other mineral resources in the countries where the mercenaries operated. These businesses are located in a few companies that are officially separate from Wagner, including Evro Polis. These companies have now been placed on the European sanctions list.

Libya

Wagner was also accused of committing several atrocities in the civil war in Libya, where he fought alongside Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar. With the support of Russian mercenaries, he tried to capture the capital, Tripoli, last year, but the operation ended in failure.

In recent years, Wagner has expanded its activities mainly in Africa. There, Russian mercenaries assist the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadera, in his fight against the rebels. Three Russian journalists investigating Wagner’s activities in the country were killed in 2018. Authorities say it was a robbery, but independent Russian media suspect Wagner’s involvement.

Wagner is now trying to get a foot in Mali. At the moment, there is still a French force of 5,000 men operating there to prevent the country from falling into the hands of jihadist groups, as it did roughly in 2013. However, Paris wants to withdraw its forces from the country. In this case, the military regime in Mali is considering calling the services of Wagner.

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