Russian Pvt Military Machine Wagner Designated ‘International Criminal Org’ by US

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The United States on Friday designated Russia’s Wagner group as a “transnational felony group,” piling pressure on the private Russian army fighting in Ukraine.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Wagner, controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman close to President Vladimir Putin, has about 50,000 fighters in Ukraine, 80 percent of them drawn from prisons.

Kirby showed US intelligence photographs of North Korea supplying arms to Wagner for its Ukraine operations, and said the private army has become a rival to the formal Russian military.

The photographs, from November 18-19, show Russian rail cars entering North Korea, picking up a load of infantry rockets and missiles, and returning to Russia, he said.

He said the US Treasury was formally designating Wagner as a transnational criminal organization, putting it in league with Italian mafia groups and Japanese and Russian organized crime.

The designation will allow the wider application of sanctions on the group’s sprawling global network, which includes mercenary operations as well as businesses in Africa and elsewhere.

Wagner “is a criminal organization that is committing widespread atrocities and human rights abuses,” Kirby stated.

“We will work relentlessly to determine, disrupt, expose and goal those that are helping Wagner,” he said.

Kirby also said the United States had presented its intelligence on Wagner’s North Korean purchase to the UN Security Council’s unit on North Korea sanctions.

The arms transfers from North Korea are in direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, Kirby said.

Kirby said there is evidence that Prigozhin’s confidence in Wagner fighters’ relative success in Ukraine has generated tensions in the Kremlin.

“Wagner is becoming a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries,” Kirby stated.

“Prigozhin is attempting to advance his personal curiosity in Ukraine and Wagner is making army choices primarily based largely on what they are going to generate for Prigozhin, by way of optimistic publicity.”

Prigozhin has claimed credit for Russian advances over several months towards the eastern Ukraine city of Bakhmut, including the capture last week of neighboring Soledar.

On Thursday, Prigozhin said in a press statement Russia has “a lot to learn” from Ukraine’s military.

But he insisted “the settlement of Artemovsk will likely be captured”, using the Russian name for Bakhmut.

Wagner was founded in 2014 and has been involved in conflicts in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Wagner fighters are tough and disciplined, Prigozhin says, but are brutally punished if they flee the battle.

But his infighting with other officials in the Kremlin could be hurting him.

According to the US Institute for the Study of War, Putin “is increasingly siding with” Prigozhin’s rivals in high-level energy circles.

Putin has additionally indirectly credited Wagner with the Bakhmut space successes, it famous.

“Putin is probably going trying to cut back Prigozhin’s prominence in favor of the re-emerging skilled Russian army and Russian authorities officers,” the group said Thursday.

Known as “Putin’s chef” for having catered occasions for the Russian strongman since each had been in St. Petersburg within the 1990s, Prigozhin, 61, has been in US sights for years.

He was indicted by the US Justice Department in February 2018 for large interference within the US presidential election two years earlier by the Internet Research Agency and Concord Management and Consulting, two companies he owns.

He and his corporations are additionally beneath US and European sanctions for varied actions.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 employees and is revealed from a syndicated information company feed)

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