US classifies Wagner group as criminal organization

US classifies Wagner group as criminal organization

The US classifies the Russian mercenary group Wagner as a “transnational criminal organization”. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced today. This classification could result in further sanctions being imposed on the group and its supporters next week.

The group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has about 50,000 fighters in Ukraine, according to Kirby. Of these, 40,000 were recruited from prisons. Wagner also received missiles from North Korea in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Kirby showed footage intended to show the weapons being transported from North Korea to Russia by train.

Mercenaries from the Wagner paramilitary group have been deployed in many conflict regions, including Syria and African countries, for years. Prigozhin only publicly admitted in September that he had founded the group, which had long operated secretly. In October, he opened an official headquarters in St. Petersburg.