U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday a series of sanctions targeting individuals associated with Russia’s paramilitary Wagner Group, including its leader and associated front companies, for waging war in Ukraine, including battlefield activities and the targeting of civilians.
In a statement, Blinken said the sanctions will target five entities and one individual linked to the Wagner Group and its head, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, as well as several other individuals and entities, for their status as government officials and for being part of Russia’s military industrial complex.
Blinken’s statement said the State Department also is designating three individuals for their roles as heads of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, which has been reported to facilitate the recruitment of Russian prisoners into the Wagner Group, and subsequently sent to the front lines to fight in the conflict in Ukraine.
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Additionally, the top U.S. diplomat said the U.S. Treasury Department is designating the Wagner Group a “significant transnational criminal organization” for actions taken in Africa.
The statement said the “group’s pattern of serious criminal behavior includes violent harassment of journalists, aid workers, and members of minority groups and harassment, obstruction, and intimidation of U.N. peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, as well as rape and killings in Mali.”
In the statement Thursday, Blinken noted, “The United States is steadfast in our resolve against Russia’s aggression and other destabilizing behavior worldwide. [Thursday’s] designations will further impede the Kremlin’s ability to arm its war-machine that is engaged in a war of aggression against Ukraine, and which has caused unconscionable death and destruction.”