PARIS – The French parliament passed a motion on Tuesday urging the European Union to previously name Russian mercenary unit Wagner a “terrorist group.”
The nonbinding and symbolic resolution was unanimously supported across the political spectrum.
Its creator, ruling party MP Benjamin Haddad, has stated that he thinks it will persuade the EU’s 27 countries to add Wagner to their official list of terrorist organizations.
“Wherever Wagner members work, they spread instability and violence,” he told lawmakers on Tuesday. “They murder and torture.” They slaughter and loot. They can intimidate and manipulate with near impunity.”
He claimed they were not simply mercenaries motivated by a “appetite for money,” but rather “follow a broad strategy, from Mali to Ukraine, of supporting President (Vladimir) Putin’s regime’s aggressive policies toward our democracies.”
Being designated a terrorist organization implies that EU nations may freeze the Wagner group’s and its members’ assets, and European corporations and nationals are prohibited from interacting with the organization.
However, Wagner and its entrepreneurial head Yevgeny Prigozhin have already been sanctioned by the European Union, first in February for human rights violations in Africa and then again in April for their participation in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Prigozhin is a close Putin supporter, and his men have been fighting for months to take control of the battle-scarred city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
In 2020, he had his assets in the European Union frozen and was placed on a visa blacklist as a result of the deployment of Wagner fighters to war-torn Libya, a decision he unsuccessfully contested.
At the time, he said he had “no knowledge of an entity known as Wagner Group.”
Paris has accused the group of waging anti-French propaganda campaigns in West Africa, particularly Mali.
The EU’s terrorist list, which is approved by the bloc’s leaders at regular meetings, now comprises 13 individuals and 21 groups or entities, including Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group.
The parliaments of Lithuania and Estonia have officially designated Wagner as a “terrorist organization.”