The Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary gang, will be designated a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Wednesday.
“Given the activities they’re involved with, it’s important that as far as the UK is concerned, it will be illegal to be part of them,” Shapps told Sky News.
His remarks came only hours after British media claimed that Home Secretary Suella Braverman was planning to designate the Wagner Group as a “proscribed” organization under anti-terror laws, putting it on par with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
“Wagner is a violent and destructive organisation which has acted as a military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas,” the Daily Mail quoted Braverman as saying.
“While Putin’s regime decides what to do with the monster it created, Wagner’s continuing destabilising activities only continue to serve the Kremlin’s political goals.”
Under the Terrorism Act 2000 the home secretary has the power to proscribe an organisation if they believe it is involved in terrorism.
A proscription order makes it a criminal offence to support the group.
“They are terrorists, plain and simple — and this proscription order makes that clear in UK law,” a BBC report added, quoting Braverman.
“Wagner has been involved in looting, torture and barbarous murders,” Braverman added in the Daily Mail.
The group’s operations in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa “are a threat to global security,” she said.
“That is why we are proscribing this terrorist organisation and continuing to aid Ukraine wherever we can in its fight against Russia.”
According to rumors, draft legislation to prohibit the Wagner Group under the act will be introduced in parliament on Wednesday.
According to Shapps, the sanctions will prohibit persons in the UK from being “actively involved” in the group or from displaying its emblem.
In July, Britain imposed sanctions on 13 persons and businesses it alleged had ties to the Russian group in Africa, accusing it of crimes such as murder and torture.
The individuals and organisations targeted were allegedly involved in Wagner’s actions in Mali, Central African Republic (CAR), and Sudan, and are no longer permitted to deal with UK persons, corporations, or banks, and have any UK assets frozen.
They included Ivan Aleksandrovitch Maslov, the alleged leader of Wagner in Mali; Vitalii Viktorovitch Perfilev, the group’s chief in CAR; and Konstantin Aleksandrovitch Pikalov, the group’s operations head in CAR.
Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in an aircraft crash last month, was previously sanctioned by Britain, as were several of his top commanders who had taken part in Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
Prigozhin, a Kremlin confidant turned “traitor,” was assassinated two months after directing his forces to destabilize Russia’s military leadership.