The European Council decided this week to impose additional restrictive measures against individuals and entities linked to the Wagner Group in view of the international dimension and gravity of the group’s activities, as well as its destabilising impact on the countries where it is active.
The Wagner Group’s activities are a threat for the people in the countries where they operate and the European Union. They endanger international peace and security as they do not operate within any legal framework. The EU is determined to continue taking tangible action against breaches to international law. We stand up for human rights everywhere. Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
The Wagner Group is a Russia-based unincorporated private military entity, present in several countries, including Ukraine, Libya, the Central African Republic (CAR), Mali and Sudan.
In particular, the Council decided to list eight individuals and seven entities under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime responsible for or involved in serious human rights abuses in the Central African Republic and Sudan as well as one individual under the Mali sanctions regime responsible for actions threatening the peace, security, or stability of Mali. Two individuals were also listed in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.
The listed individuals include two commanders of Wagner Group forces actively involved in the capture of the town of Soledar in Ukraine in January 2023, the head of the Wagner Group in Mali, where Wagner mercenaries have been involved in acts of violence and multiple human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, as well as various high-profile members of the group in the CAR. The latter include the security advisor to the President of the CAR, the spokesperson of the group in the country, as well as notable members of the group in operational roles, or steering pro-Wagner propaganda and disinformation campaigns.
The group activities in Sudan are also targeted, as listings cover companies such as Meroe Gold and M-Invest, and the head of the latter. These companies, together with Lobaye Invest Sarlu and Diamville in the CAR are sanctioned in view of their role in illegally trading gold and diamonds looted by force from local traders.
The Foundation for the Defence of National Values (FDNV), the public relations arm of the Wagner Group, is also listed, as is its head. The Central African radio station Lengo Sengo is listed for engaging in online influence operations on behalf of Russia and the Wagner Group with the goal of manipulating public opinion.
All those listed today are subject to an asset freeze and EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them. Natural persons are additionally subject to a travel ban, which prevents them from entering or transiting through EU territories.
The EU remains deeply concerned about serious human rights violations and abuses, such as torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings, committed by the Wagner Group.
The restrictive measures agreed today add to the set of measures adopted by the Council in December 2021 against eight individuals and three entities linked to the Wagner Group, including the Wagner Group itself.
On 13 December 2021, the Council set up an autonomous framework for sanctions against those responsible for threatening the peace, security or stability of Mali, or for obstructing the implementation of its political transition.
On 7 December 2020, the Council established a global human rights sanctions regime which applies to acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses (e.g. torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions). The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime underscores the Union’s determination to enhance its role in addressing serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide. Realising the effective enjoyment of human rights by everyone is a strategic goal of the Union. Respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are fundamental values of the Union and its common foreign and security policy.
Restrictive measures regarding actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine were first introduced on 17 March 2014.
The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, have been published in the Official Journal of the EU.
- Official Journal of the EU, 25 February 2023 (including a list of the sanctioned individuals and entities)
- EU imposes restrictive measures against the Wagner Group (press release, 13 December 2021)
- EU adopts a global human rights sanctions regime (press release, 7 December 2020)
- Mali: EU sets up autonomous framework for sanctions against those obstructing the political transition (press release, 13 December 2021)