The Russian paramilitary firm Wagner Group has been sanctioned by the US for alleged ongoing prison actions

A mural praises the Russian Wagner Group and their mercenaries fighting in Ukraine March 30, 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Thursday announced a series of new sanctions and additional measures against Russia’s private military firm Wagner Group, saying it was implicated in an “ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity” in Ukraine, the Central African Republic and Mali.

The Finance Ministry identified the Wagner group, led by Putin’s cronie Yevgeny Prigozhin, as a “significant transnational criminal organization.”

In the Central African Republic and Mali, the finance ministry said, “Wagner associates have engaged in an ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity, including mass executions, rape, child abduction and physical abuse.” She is also accused of destabilizing governments in Africa and helping women and children and other civilians in Ukraine, attacking schools and hospitals and forcibly relocating civilians, among other human rights violations.

Last week, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told White House reporters that US intelligence estimates the Wagner Group has at least 50,000 associates in Ukraine, most of whom were recruited from Russian prisons to fight .

White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby (not pictured) presents during a news conference at the White House in Washington, United States, March 20.

Leah Millis | Reuters

“Our message to all companies considering supporting Wagner is simple: Wagner is a criminal organization that perpetuates widespread atrocities and human rights abuses,” Kirby added.

Kirby also criticized North Korean arms supplies to Russia used by Wagner, including infantry missiles and missiles.

The sanctions imposed on six individuals and 12 entities on Thursday also target “the infrastructure supporting battlefield operations in Ukraine, including manufacturers of Russian weapons and those managing Russian-held territories of Ukraine.”

The Ministry of Finance sanctioned Rustam Nurgaliyevich Minnikhanov, the Russian chairman of the already sanctioned Tupolev Public Joint Stock Company, for his work supporting Moscow’s aerospace sector. His wife Gulsina Akhatovna Minnikhanova was also named the main owner of most of Minnikhanov’s possessions and accepted bribes.

The Ministry of Finance also announced sanctions against companies related to the Russian defense industrial complex:

  • Russian cargo airline JSC Aviacon Zitotrans for the transport of military equipment such as missiles, helicopter parts and warheads.
  • Ural Civil Aviation Factory to repair unmanned aerial vehicles used in the Russian war in Ukraine.
  • The Russian manufacturer Almaz-Antey for its work in the development of anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems.

In addition, the Ministry of Finance is imposing sanctions on several organizations and individuals involved in the paramilitary group’s colossal global network.

  • Joint Stock Company Terra Tech, a Russia-based technology company, for providing space and aerial imagery to the Wagner Group.
  • China’s Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute and its subsidiary Spacety Luxembourg for providing radar satellite imagery over Ukrainian locations.
  • Joint Stock Company Research and Production, a Russian space company supporting Russia’s military activities in Ukraine.

“As sanctions and export controls on Russia continue to bite our international coalition, the Kremlin is desperate for arms and support – including from the brutal Wagner Group,” Treasury Secretary Yellen wrote in a statement announcing the measures.

“Today’s expanded sanctions against Wagner, as well as new sanctions against their employees and other companies that enable the Russian military complex, will further hamper Putin’s ability to arm and equip his war machine,” she added.

In addition, the State Department imposed sanctions on an individual and four entities linked to the already designated Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin.

The state also designates Sergei Adonev, a Putin financier, and marks two of his yachts and one plane as blocked property.

In addition, the state announced steps to impose visa restrictions on 531 Russian military personnel for their role in Ukraine.

“The United States stands firm in our resolve against Russia’s aggression and other destabilizing behavior around the world,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote in a statement.

“Today’s designations will further hamper the Kremlin’s ability to arm its war machine, which is engaged in a war of aggression against Ukraine and has caused ruthless death and destruction,” he added.

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