Who is the Russian mercenary group “Wagner”? News. Last Minute AFRICA, UK, Russia headlines and events

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The Biden administration has tightened sanctions against the Russian defense sector and the Wagner mercenary group.

Last week, the US Treasury Department listed the Wagner Group as an international criminal organization.

Tens of thousands of mercenaries from the Wagner Group are fighting in Russian-occupied Ukraine.

Who owns the Wagner Group?

The owner of a group of Russian mercenaries is Yevgeny Prigozhin, close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Prigozhin, sentenced to 12 years in prison for robbery and robbery in 1981, was released from prison in St. Petersburg. Petersburg opened a restaurant. It was then that he met Putin, who in the 1990s was the deputy mayor of the city.

He grew his catering company using his connections to Putin. He received huge tenders from the Russian government, thus earning the title of Putin’s boss. He also entered other industries, including the media.

He was indicted for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election because of his troll factory.

Although mercenary formations are banned in Russia, the Wagner group will become a registered company in St. Petersburg. He opened a new center in St. Petersburg.

Prigozhin, who has previously denied any ties to the Wagner group, admitted in September that he owns the company and this month announced that he is its founder, director and financier.

In which countries does Wagner operate?

The band’s name first appeared in conflicts in eastern Ukraine after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Russia has denied sending arms and soldiers to the separatists, although there is evidence to the contrary in the region.

The use of PSC employees, namely mercenaries, in the conflict gave Moscow the opportunity to refute these accusations.

The company got its name from the pseudonym of its first commander, retired lieutenant colonel of the Russian army Dmitry Utkin.

Wagner personnel have served in conflicts outside of Ukraine, in the civil war in Syria, where Russia backs President Bashar al-Assad, and in Libya alongside forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar.

The mercenary group is also known to operate in the Central African Republic and Mali.

What charges are being leveled against the Wagner group?

Western countries and UN experts accuse Wagner group mercenaries of human rights violations in the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali.

In 2021, the European Union accused a Russian mercenary group of gross human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial executions in African countries and Ukraine.

Some images posted on social media claimed that Wagner-linked mercenaries tortured and killed a Syrian by beating him with a sledgehammer.

What role does he play in Ukraine?

The Wagner group became more visible in Ukraine, where Russian soldiers encountered a number of obstacles and suffered casualties.

The owner of the company, Prigozhin, claimed that in the Donetsk region Soledar was captured by mercenaries loyal to Wagner.

He also said that Wagner led the attack in the town of Bakhmut, which Russian forces had been trying to capture for months.

After the capture of Soledar, there was disagreement between the Ministry of Defense and the Wagner group over whose success it was.

Before the invasion of Ukraine began, the US estimated that Wagner had 5,000 men, mostly veterans. However, at the moment, about 50 thousand personnel are in conflict.

According to the US National Security Council, 80 percent of the personnel involved in the conflict in Ukraine are former offenders who have recovered from prisons.

It is alleged that Wagner spent $100 million a month on the conflict and purchased arms, including missiles and rockets, from North Korea.

British intelligence says the group began making major purchases last year as Russia struggled to find recruits for the army.

What does the command echelon of the Russian army think of Wagner?

During the conflict in Ukraine, a group of soldiers believed to be Wagnerians posted an image aimed at the Chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, on the grounds that he did not provide ammunition.

The owner of the company, Prigozhin, has accused senior military officials of incompetence in recent months.

Putin, on the other hand, reaffirmed his confidence in the Russian military officer by placing the responsibility for Russian troops in Ukraine on General Gerasimov.

Is the Wagner Group included in the sanctions list of Western countries?

On January 26, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department announced the expansion of sanctions against Russian defense companies and companies allegedly associated with the Russian mercenary group Wagner, as part of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

In this regard, Kratol Aviation, headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, was on the sanctions list for supporting Wagner.

The statement indicated that the Wagner company, which is on the US sanctions list as an “international criminal organization”, used the aircraft provided by the company to transport personnel and equipment between the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali.

The European Union has also imposed sanctions on Prigozhin, some individuals associated with Wagner, and those associated with a group of energy companies in central Russia operating in Syria.

This article was cited by the Associated Press news agency.

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