Wagner to be declared a terrorist organization by UK

The United Kingdom says it will declare Russia’s Wagner mercenary group a banned terrorist organization, just weeks after its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash.

The order will be introduced in Parliament on Wednesday and if approved, will ban membership in Wagner or support for the mercenary group, which has been a critical piece of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The group has also operated in Syria and multiple countries in Africa.

“They are terrorists, plain and simple – and this proscription order makes that clear in U.K. law. Wagner has been involved in looting, torture and barbarous murders. Its operations in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa are a threat to global security,” U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in a statement.

Braverman described the group as a “violent and destructive” organization, noting that it has been used as a “military tool” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The U.K. Security Minister, Tom Tugendhat, said that the group was “responsible for committing atrocities across the world.”

“Proscribing Wagner sends a clear message that the UK will not tolerate Russia’s proxies and their barbaric actions in Ukraine, and condemns Wagner’s campaign of corruption and bloodshed on the African continent, which has been repeatedly linked to human rights violations,” Tugendhat said.

The press release noted also that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky requested that the group be treated as a terrorist organization.

Other terrorist organizations declared by the U.K. government include the Islamic State group, the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Northern Ireland paramilitaries.

Declaring Wagner as a terrorist organization is largely a symbolic move that allows British authorities to seize the group’s assets, since it is not known to operate in the U.K. The move comes after Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee recommended the group be outlawed in July, saying that British authorities had “underplayed and underestimated” the group.

The U.S. has labeled the Wagner group as a transnational criminal organization.

The Associated Press contributed.

Tags Russia-Ukraine war United Kingdom Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelensky Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin