The EU must sanction Russia‘s private army, known as the Wagner Group.
This is what a European Parliament resolution calls for, adopted by an overwhelming majority of 585 votes in favor. Curiously, it is supported by all five Bulgarian Socialist MEPs. They usually either oppose or abstain in a vote against Russia.
MEPs strongly condemn the horrific crimes committed by Wagner and related paramilitary groups in various conflict zones. There are serious indications that the Russian state is responsible for the financing, training, management and operational command of these groups. The activities of the Private Military Company (PMC), as Wagner is called, coincide with the spread of Russia‘s influence in these areas. Therefore, both this company and other Russian-led security contractors should be treated as organizations acting in Moscow’s interests.
The Wagner PMC is present in many conflict zones around the world, MEPs recall. These are mainly Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Mozambique, Libya, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Venezuela.
The resolution recalls that the Kremlin’s use of private military and security companies is based on the Soviet Union’s long experience of acting through fake forces abroad. Thousands of military specialists are being sent to conflict zones under the pretext of being advisers. At the same time, Russian participation is officially denied. We also recall Vladimir Putin’s statement of April 11, 2012. He was then Prime Minister of Russia and said the following:
“A group of private military companies would be an effective tool for achieving national goals without the direct involvement of the Russian state.”
Given the serious data, the MEPs welcome the statement of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, on November 15 on the forthcoming adoption of targeted sanctions against persons and entities related to and working for the Wagner Group. MEPs call for measures to include a ban on travel to the EU and the freezing of company employees’ accounts.
The resolution also urges all parties using the services of the Wagner PMC and its affiliated groups, most notably in the CAR, to cease all contact with it and its staff. And the European Commission must ensure that EU funds cannot be used by recipient countries to fund private military companies accused of horrific human rights abuses.
Since 2017, the group has been on the US sanctions list for the illegal annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin’s chef, is believed to have the most money for the Wagner PMC. He has been sanctioned by the EU for his involvement in the Libyan conflict.
15 out of 17 Bulgarian MEPs supported the resolution, according to the data from the roll-call vote. Among them are the five representatives of BSP, who otherwise never vote against Russia. Only two Bulgarian MEPs abstained. These are our two representatives of IMRO and the group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) – Angel Dzhambazki and Andrei Slabakov.
585 MEPs supported the resolution. 40 voted against and 43 abstained.
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