Russia’s Wagner classified as a terrorist group in UK | world news

FILE PHOTO: A man in camouflage uniform exits the PMC Wagner Centre, a project by businessman and founder of the private Wagner military group Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office building in Saint Petersburg, Russia November 4, 2022. REUTERS/Igor Russak/File photo

PMC Wagner Centre, in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Image: Reuters)

The Russian Wagner Group is understood to be officially classified as a terrorist organization in the UK.

Following calls from the French parliament to the European Union, mercenaries from the paramilitary group are expected to be classified equally as members of Isis and al-Qaeda.

A ban would make it a criminal offense to associate with Wagner, promote his support, publicly display his logo, or attend his meetings.

A government source quoted by The Times said the move was “imminent” and likely to be implemented within weeks after two months of drafting a legal case.

FILE - In this handout photo from video released by the Prigozhin press service on Friday, March 3, 2023, Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of military company Wagner Group, addresses Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and asks him to help the remaining Ukrainian armed forces from Bakhmut save their lives in an undisclosed location in Ukraine. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the rogue millionaire who owns the Wagner group, accused it of destroying the best Ukrainian units in Bakhmut to prevent them from launching attacks elsewhere. But he also sharply criticized the Russian Ministry of Defense for not supplying its troops with ammunition. (Prigozhin press service via AP, file)

Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of military company Wagner Group (Image: AP)

Led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy oligarch sometimes nicknamed “Putin’s cook” for catering to the Kremlin, the group has recently been heavily involved in Russia’s effort to seize Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

The city of once 70,000 people has been under Russian attack for more than nine months, with Wagner leading repeated advance attempts.

Although ostensibly a private military company, it is in fact seen as a de facto extension of the Russian army.

Most recently, his mercenaries have been accused of being behind several ISIS-style executions of Ukrainians.

FILE - Yevgeny Prigozhin (top) serves food to then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin November 11, 2011 at Prigozhin's restaurant outside Moscow, Russia. Prigozhin, the multimillion-dollar owner of private military company Wagner Group, used his long-standing ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin to expand his influence. (AP Photo/Pool, File)

Prigozhin (above) serves food to then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at his restaurant outside Moscow (Image: AP)

Footage shared on social media shows the hired soldiers beheading POWs by slitting their throats with knives and then fracturing their spines.

Earlier on Tuesday, Putin used the Victory Day Parade in Moscow to accuse the West of unleashing a “real war” against the country with its “untamed ambitions”.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State James Cleverly stressed that international allies must continue to support Ukraine to uphold the principle that “powerful nations cannot raid their neighbors with impunity.”

Visiting the US, Mr Cleverly said: “Things are complicated, things are messy, things are difficult, things get scary.”

“We will expect to hear escalating words from Vladimir Putin’s mouth – we must be prepared for this, we must have the determination to continue to do the right thing despite these comments.”

The Labor Party said in February it wanted ministers to follow the US lead after labeling Wagner a “major transnational criminal organisation”.

In a joint statement, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The Wagner Group is responsible for the appalling atrocities in Ukraine and around the world.”

“Nobody in the UK should be allowed to belong to, support or promote the Wagner Group.”

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Justin Scaccy

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