Bloc targets 2 businessmen with asset freeze, travel ban for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
The European Union on Thursday added the head of the Russian mercenary company the Wagner Group to its blacklist for actions violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
The EU imposed asset freeze and travel ban on two more individuals for their role in “undermining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine” and for benefitting from “the illegal annexation of Crimea or the destabilization of eastern Ukraine,” the Council of the European Union said in a statement.
One of the new entries is Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, “the founder and unofficial head of the Wagner Group” who is responsible for deploying mercenaries in Ukraine and “a prominent Russian businessman with close ties to President (Vladimir) Putin and the Russian Ministry of Defense,” according to the statement.
“Some of his companies has been benefitting from large public contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense following the illegal annexation of Crimea and occupation of eastern Ukraine Russia-backed separatists” it also said.
The other sanctioned person is Ukrainian businessman Serhiy Vitaliyovich Kurchenko who “took control of several large metallurgical, chemical and energy plants in the separatist-held areas with support from pro-Russia separatists,” the Council explained in its decision.
Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war on Feb. 24, the EU has imposed five sets of sanctions on Russia for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The new update brings the total number of people that the EU has sanctioned over undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity to 1,093.
The EU has also banned coal imports and luxury goods exports to Russia, as well as barring Russian and Belarusian banks from operating in the SWIFT international banking system.
– Wagner Group
According to a resolution adopted by the European Parliament in November, the activities of the Wagner Group correspond to the expansion of Russia’s influence zone, therefore it is highly likely that Russia is in charge of the funding, training, management, and operational command of the paramilitary group.
The US Defense Department considers the private mercenary company a proxy force for the Russian state.
The Wagner Group has reportedly been deployed in Crimea and eastern Ukraine since 2014.
According to the European Parliament, they have also intervened in the Central African Republic, Syria, Sudan, Mozambique, Libya, the Central African Republic, and Venezuela.