Russia: Convicts reportedly pardoned by Wagner group
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Russia’s Wagner Group faces a major threat from the White House today which said it would “pursue” the recently outlawed mercenary group with “every appropriate tool”. Ned Price, a spokesperson for the US Department of State, said the US will hit the groups operations in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world.
His remarks come as the paramilitary group faces Western backlash in light of claims the paramilitary group had been buying arms from North Korea.
The US plans to hit Wagner with new sanctions to cut off the group’s funding and is expected to take more action in the near future, the White House confirmed last week.
Mr Price said in a public briefing today: “We are going to use every appropriate tool to pursue the Wagner Group, to attempt to counter its destabilizing actions, its destabilising influence – again in the Ukrainian context and more broadly as well.”
Earlier in the briefing, Price highlighted an earlier round of sanctions in March 2022 which aimed to limit funds to the paramilitary group leader’s Internet Research Agency which he said was used to “propagate his global influence operations”.
The latest tranche of sanctions on Wagner are set to freeze any assets Wagner Group has in the States and ban Americans from providing funds, goods, or services.
Wagner is thought to have bought weapons including ballistic missiles and rockets from North Korea.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the group, recently sent a letter to the White House denying these claims, said Price.
The letter is said to have arrived shortly after the government leaked satellite images of a Russian train on route to North Korea to pick up an arms order.
Last week, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby commented on the leaked information.
He said: “On November 19, North Korea loaded the railcars with shipping containers, and the train returned to Russia.
“While we assess that the amount of material delivered to Wagner has not changed battlefield dynamics in Ukraine, we expect that it will continue to receive North Korean weapons systems.”
Kirby also accused them of “committing atrocities and human rights abuses in Ukraine”.
There is a documented history of Wagner’s involvement in human rights violations in the Central African Republic, one of the areas where it operates.
Torture, disappearances, executions and rape are some of the atrocities recorded by United Nations investigators.
Fighters trained by Wagner in Sudan were also accused of killing over 100 protestors in the capital Khartoum.
Wagner mercenaries are understood to be working in the former French colony to protect the poor country’s regime.
They cover up their brutal actions with giant propaganda campaigns, France 24 reported.
It is often paid in mineral resources for its work.
Its boss Prigozhin was indicted by the US Department of Justice for financing troll farms said to have interfered with the US election in 2016.
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