US Treasury on Thursday Designated Wagner Groupa private Russian mercenary organization Heavily involved in the war in Ukraineas a transnational criminal organization, and has imposed a wide range of sanctions on the transnational network that supports it.
The US State Department meanwhile announced a number of sanctions intended to “target a range of key Wagner infrastructure — including an airline used by Wagner, a Wagner propaganda organization, and Wagner front companies,” according to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
As the Russian army struggles on the battlefield, Putin has resorted to relying on the Wagner Group to continue his war of choice. The Treasury Department said in a press release that the Wagner Group has interfered and destabilized countries in Africa, committing widespread human rights violations and extorting natural resources from their people.
In addition to the actions targeting the Wagner Group — reviewed by the White House last week — both agencies have announced sanctions against a broad range of individuals and companies linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine. These are the latest US punitive measures against the Kremlin and its proxies, as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war approaches its second year, with no signs of abating.
“This action supports our goal of degrading Moscow’s ability to wage war against Ukraine, enhance accountability for those responsible for Russia’s war of aggression and associated abuses, and apply further pressure on Russia’s defense sector,” Blinken said in a statement.
The Treasury Department announced sanctions against a number of individuals and companies associated with Moscow’s defense industrial complex, as well as Putin’s allies and family members, and two people involved in Russia’s attempts to annex parts of Ukraine.
The State Department also announced sanctions against “three individuals for their roles as heads of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, which was reported to facilitate the recruitment of Russian prisoners into the Wagner Group,” a deputy prime minister who also serves as minister of industry and trade, “head of the election commission of the Rostov region.” , a network linked to an already sanctioned Russian oligarch, and a financier of Putin, according to Blinken.
In addition, the State Department announced that it would take steps to impose visa restrictions “on 531 members of the Russian Federation’s military for actions that threaten or violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence.”
Last week, the National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, reviewed the significant designation of a transnational criminal organization and upcoming sanctions against the Wagner Group, telling reporters Friday, “These actions recognize the transcontinental threat posed by Wagner, including through its continuing pattern of of serious criminal activity.”
Among the companies sanctioned by the Treasury Department due to its ties to the Wagner Group and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is TerraTech JSC, a “Russia-based technology company that provides commercially active, as well as from the air, satellite imagery.” by Unmanned Systems”, and a China-based entity “that placed requests for synthetic aperture radar satellite imagery from Terra Tech via locations in Ukraine”.
“These images were collected in order to enable Wagner’s combat operations in Ukraine,” the Treasury Department said.
In addition to sanctions related to the Wagner Group’s significant participation in the war in Ukraine, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions for its illegal activities in the Central African Republic. The group was reclassified as being “responsible for targeting, complicating or participating in women, children, or any civilians by committing acts of violence, abduction, forced displacement, attacking schools, hospitals, religious sites, or sites where civilians seek refuge, or through conduct of would constitute a serious breach, violation of human rights or violation of international humanitarian law in relation to the Central African Republic.”