The United Kingdom (UK) is set to designate the Wagner Group, a Russian private military company, as a terrorist organization.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed this decision during an interview with Sky News on Wednesday.
He said, “Given the activities they’re involved with, it’s important that, as far as the UK is concerned, it will be illegal to be part of them”.
His announcement followed reports in the British media that Home Secretary Suella Braverman was preparing to classify the Wagner Group as a “proscribed” organisation under anti-terrorism laws, placing it alongside entities such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
The Home Secretary stated, “Wagner is a violent and destructive organisation that has acted as a military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas,” as reported by the Daily Mail.
She added, “While Putin’s regime decides what to do with the monster it created, Wagner’s continuing destabilising activities only continue to serve the Kremlin’s political goals.”
Under the Terrorism Act of 2000, the Home Secretary possesses the authority to proscribe an organisation if there are reasonable grounds to believe it is involved in terrorism. A proscription order makes it a criminal offence to support the group.
“They are terrorists, plain and simple—and this proscription order makes that clear in UK law,” emphasised a BBC report, quoting Braverman.
Furthermore, she condemned the Wagner Group’s involvement in looting, torture, and heinous murders, asserting that their operations in Ukraine, the Middle East, and Africa posed a significant threat to global security.
“We are proscribing this terrorist organisation and continuing to aid Ukraine wherever we can in its fight against Russia,” Braverman concluded.
Draft legislation to ban the Wagner Group under the Terrorism Act will be presented in Parliament on Wednesday, according to reports.
Shapps outlined that the measures would prohibit individuals in the UK from actively participating in the group or displaying its insignia.
In July, the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on 13 individuals and businesses with alleged links to the Russian private military company, accusing them of crimes, including killings and torture, in Africa.
Those targeted are no longer permitted to engage with UK citizens, companies, or banks, and their UK assets have been frozen.
Among those sanctioned were Ivan Aleksandrovitch Maslov, the purported head of Wagner in Mali, Vitalii Viktorovitch Perfilev, the group’s chief in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Konstantin Aleksandrovitch Pikalov, the operations head in CAR.