Sept. 6 (Reuters) – The Russian mercenary Wagner Group will be banned as a terrorist organization by the British government, the BBC reported on Tuesday, citing a draft order.
The draft order will allow Wagner’s assets to be categorized as terrorist property and seized, the BBC said, adding that it will be illegal to be a member of or support the organization under the order.
British Home Secretary Suella Braverman told the BBC that Wagner was “violent and destructive…a military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia”.
“They are terrorists, plain and simple – and this prohibition order makes that clear in UK law,” she said.
Banning Wagner as a terrorist organization would mean that it would be a criminal offense in Britain to belong to or promote the group, organize or address rallies, and wear its logo in public.
The Wagner mercenary group was deployed to Ukraine shortly after the Russian invasion last year.
In December, the group played a central role in the battle for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, having deployed thousands of prisoners in Russian prisons to fight for it on the front lines. Until recently, the group was the mainstay of the Russian offensive.
The UK’s decision to declare Wagner a terrorist group comes after lawmakers on the Foreign Affairs Committee in July pushed for more targeted sanctions against what they said was a “web of entities” under the Wagner group.
Britain sanctioned Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in 2020, the Wagner group as a whole in March 2022, and in July this year imposed sanctions on individuals and companies associated with the group in the Central African Republic, Mali and Sudan.
Prigozhin died when his private Ebraer jet crashed while traveling from Moscow to Saint Petersburg on August 23. Russia said it would investigate the crash, but no cause has yet been made public.
(Reporting by Lavanya Ahire in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry)