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US Toughens Sanctions Against Russia's Wagner

US Toughens Sanctions Against Russia's Wagner

Friday, 27 January, 2023 - 06:30
A man wearing a camouflage uniform walks out of PMC Wagner Center, which is a project implemented by the businessman and founder of the Wagner private military group Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block in Saint Petersburg, Russia, November 4, 2022. REUTERS/Igor Russak

The United States on Thursday stepped up sanctions against the Wagner Group, labeling the Russian mercenary company fighting in Ukraine as a transnational criminal organization responsible for widespread human rights abuses.

Wagner has been locked in a battle to take the towns of Bakhmut and Soledar in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, where Western and Ukrainian officials have said it is using convicts as cannon fodder.

The US Treasury Department, as part of action targeting dozens of people and entities in an effort to degrade Russia's ability to wage the war, said it designated Wagner Group as a "significant transnational criminal organization" on Thursday.

"Wagner personnel have engaged in an ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity, including mass executions, rape, child abductions, and physical abuse in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali," the Treasury said in a statement.

It had previously designated Wagner under its Russia and Ukraine sanctions programs.

Washington also designated other entities it accused of supporting the Wagner Group's military operations, including Russia-based technology firm Joint Stock Company Terra Tech (Terra Tech), and targeted Russia's defense industrial complex.

Treasury designated China-based Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute Co. LTD, known as Spacety China, accusing it of providing Wagner with radar satellite imagery over locations in Ukraine to Terra Tech.

"These images were gathered in order to enable Wagner combat operations in Ukraine," Treasury said.

A source told Reuters this week that the United States has determined that some Chinese companies are providing non-lethal assistance to Russia for use in Ukraine.

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