The founder and seven other leaders of the Russian mercenary company Wagner are no longer allowed to enter the European Union. For example, they are also no longer able to access money that they have deposited at European banks.
The sanctions are part of a package with which the EU wants to tackle Wagner. The union said that the company’s security guards and mercenaries are housed in countries such as Ukraine, Syria, Libya, and the Central African Republic. They would violate human rights time and again.
Therefore, the EU is punishing Dimitri Utkin, who is considered the founder and leader of the private army of an estimated several thousand men. Chechnya veteran Utkin was previously a guest at receptions of the Kremlin, which also awarded him several times. The same applies to three accomplices, who fought as Wagner commanders in Syria and Libya.
The EU says that one of the punished Wagner men is Moscow’s chief executive in the Central African Republic. He could be blamed, among other things, for the deaths of three Russian journalists there.
According to the union, a punished colleague was responsible for torturing a deserter to death during the civil war in Syria. Two others fought with pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine and are proud to have shot down Ukrainian planes.
Sanctions are also imposed on the mercenary agency itself and three front companies with which it earns money in Syria, for example, in oil. Their assets in the EU are frozen and European companies, and citizens are not allowed to do business with them. The latter also applies to the Wagner leaders who have been punished.
Wagner serves as the Kremlin’s shadow army, analysts say. Russia insists that Wagner is a private company and its own boss.