Wednesday 25 May 2022
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European sanctions against Russian Wagner mercenaries and Myanmar

Wagner supplies and hires security guards and armed militias in countries such as Libya, Syria and the Central African Republic. The sanctions also affect three other Russian companies and organizations. European citizens and companies are no longer allowed to do business with them.

The European Union imposes sanctions on the Russian mercenary organization Wagner. The company plays a bad role in Ukraine and other countries, many EU countries believe. The Netherlands, France and the Czech Republic had insisted on punitive measures against Wagner, now that it also threatens to gain a foothold in Mali.

Wagner pays little attention to human rights or the rule of law, and is also said to sometimes serve as the Kremlin's shadow army. Russia maintains that Wagner is a private company, but in reality it would take orders from Moscow.

The Wagner Group (PMC Wagner) is officially a company owned by Russian Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is said to have been Putin's private chef, among other things. Wagner was founded by Dimitri Utkin, who himself for many years belonged to the Russian elite units of the Russian secret service.

Wagner maintains very close ties with the Russian army. For example, the recruits of the mercenary army are allowed to use army grounds near Molkin, in the Krasnodar region. Wagner also actively recruits into the Russian army. In 2016 it was assumed that Wagner has about a thousand people. 

The EU foreign ministers are also calling for an arms embargo against Southeast Asian Myanmar due to the increasing violence in the country. The Brussels statement follows reports of another massacre in Myanmar. The army says it has eliminated "armed terrorists" itself.

The Myanmar military staged a coup this year and arrested chief of government Aung San Suu Kyi. The European Union subsequently imposed sanctions, but it is now clear that additional measures are needed.


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