Britain intends to have the Wagner mercenary group declared a terrorist group, a step that will make any involvement with this group illegal.
“Given the activities they are involved in, it is important that as far as the United Kingdom is concerned, it will be illegal to be part of the group,” said Grant Shapps, British defense minister.
Shapps’ comments about the group come hours after British media reported that Suella Braverman, that country’s home minister, plans to have the Wagner group declared a banned organization under British anti-terror legislation.
A similar ban already applies against terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.
“Wagner is a violent and destructive organization that acted as a military tool for Vladimir Putin overseas,” the Daily Mail quoted Braverman.
“While Putin’s regime decides what to do with the monster it has created, Wagner’s destabilizing activities only continue to serve the Kremlin’s political agenda.”
Under Britain’s terrorism law, the Home Secretary has the power to ban an organization if it is suspected of being involved in terrorism.
This ban also makes it a crime to belong to the group or support it.
“They are terrorists, plain as that … and this ban makes that clear under British law,” Braverman told the BBC.
“Wagner was involved in looting, torture and barbaric murders,” she said Daily Mail added.
The group’s operations in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa “are a threat to international security,” Braverman said.
“This is why we want to ban this terrorist organization and continue to help Ukraine wherever we can in its fight against Russia.”
Draft measures to ban the Wagner Group under the relevant legislation are expected to be tabled in the British Parliament on Wednesday.
Shapps says the measures will ban people in the UK from being “actively involved” with the group, or displaying its logo.
In July, Britain announced sanctions against 13 individuals and companies the country said had ties to the Russian group in Africa, accusing Wagner of crimes there, including torture and murder.
The people and businesses identified were also allegedly involved in Wagner’s activities in Mali, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan.
These people and companies are no longer allowed to do business with British companies and banks and all their British assets are frozen.
There were already sanctions against the leader of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in a plane crash last month. Sanctions were also imposed against several of Prigozhin’s commanders, who participated in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Prigozhin, a former Kremlin confidant turned “traitor”, died two months after ordering his troops to overthrow Russia’s military leadership.