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US Expands Sanctions on Russia's Wagner Group

The U.S. this week expanded sanctions against Wagner Group and designated people, entities and aircraft linked to the Russian private military company. The designations will "degrade the Russian Federation’s capacity to wage war against Ukraine," the Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a Jan. 26 news release, and target infrastructure that "supports battlefield operations in Ukraine," including weapons producers and administrators of Russian-occupied areas.

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The measures designate Wagner Group as a significant transnational criminal organization and redesignates the company under executive order 13667, which authorizes certain sanctions against people and entities for contributing to the conflict in the Central African Republic. OFAC specifically pointed to Wagner's ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity, including mass executions, rape, child abductions and physical abuse in the CAR and Mali.

The White House previewed the sanctions last week, saying Wagner Group, led by sanctioned Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin, is being used by Russia to support its war in Ukraine (see 2301230009). Additionally, the Wagner Group has "meddled and destabilized" African countries and committed "widespread human rights abuses." The company was previously sanctioned in 2017 and was designated by the State Department in 2022 for operating in Russia's defense sector.

The Kremlin is "desperately searching for arms and support -- including through the brutal Wagner Group -- to continue its unjust war against Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. "Today’s expanded sanctions on Wagner, as well as new sanctions on their associates and other companies enabling the Russian military complex, will further impede Putin’s ability to arm and equip his war machine.”

Along with Wagner, the U.S. sanctioned the Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute, a China-based entity that has provided Russia with "synthetic aperture radar satellite imagery orders over locations in Ukraine," OFAC said. The agency also sanctioned Joint Stock Company Terra Tech, a Russia-based technology firm that supplies space imagery "acquired by commercially active satellites." Other designations target entities and people supporting the Wagner Group’s military operations.

The State Department also sanctioned five entities and one person linked to Wagner Group, as well as nine people and 14 entities for being government officials or for their involvement in Russia’s military industrial complex. The designations include aircraft charter service Charter Green Light Moscow and Prime Security and Development, which has acted on behalf of Wagner Group.