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Fresh US sanctions target Russia’s Wagner mercenary group | Russia-Ukraine war News

Washington says Moscow is relying on the Wagner Group in the war in Ukraine, despite tough Western sanctions and setbacks on the battlefield.

The United States officially labeled the Wagner Group a “transnational criminal organization” by unveiling a wave of sanctions against Russian mercenaries.

The administration of US President Joe Biden announced new measures on Thursday as Washington continues its efforts to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

The designation as a “transnational criminal organization” imposes a US Treasury Department strict sanctions program on Wagner, freezing the group’s US assets and barring American citizens from supporting it.

The move comes weeks after Washington accused Wagner, which has been active in Ukraine, of buying weapons from North Korea. Pyongyang and Wagner rejected this claim.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Russian President Vladimir Putin is relying on the “violent” Wagner Group for support in Ukraine as Washington and its allies tighten sanctions against Moscow.

“Today’s expanded sanctions on Wagner, as well as new sanctions on their associates and other companies supporting the Russian military complex, will further hamper Putin’s ability to arm and equip his war machine,” Yellen said in a statement on Thursday.

[Al Jazeera]

The Treasury Department also sanctioned six individuals and 12 firms based in Russia, China, the Central African Republic, Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates, which it accused of having links with Wagner and supporting Russian defense organizations.

The White House said last week that Wagner committed human rights violations and engaged in “persistent serious criminal activity.”

On Thursday, the US State Department also imposed sanctions and visa bans on Wagner and other Russian groups and individuals.

“These actions support our goal of reducing Moscow’s ability to wage war against Ukraine, holding accountable those responsible for Russia’s war of aggression and related abuses, and putting further pressure on Russia’s defense sector,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said. statement.

Russian businessman Sergei Adonev was among those harassed by the State Department, who said he identified “two yachts and one aircraft” associated with him as blocked property.

The Biden administration has imposed sanctions on wealthy Russians who support the Putin government. US and European sanctions have also targeted various sectors of the Russian economy, as well as technology and security industries.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24 – 11 months ago – after a months-long standoff, with Moscow amassing troops near Ukraine’s borders and Putin demanding an end to NATO expansion into former Soviet republics.

Moscow’s military campaign has been mired in military setbacks as the US and its Western allies continue to provide financial and military support to Kyiv.

Russia has vowed to resist the sanctions, accusing the West of prolonging the conflict by arming Ukraine.

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