British authorities on Friday officially declared the mercenary Wagner Group a terrorist organization Friday.
The decision comes more than a week after the order was introduced in Parliament. It bans membership in Wagner or any support for the group that has been seen as a key player in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Wagner Group was added to a list with 78 other proscribed organizations, including the Islamic State Group, the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Northern Ireland paramilitaries, the U.K. Home Office reported.
“This order comes into force with immediate effect and will make belonging to the Wagner Group or actively supporting the group in the UK a criminal [offense], with a potential jail sentence of 14 years which can be handed down alongside or in place of a fine.”
Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said in a statement that declaring the organization a terrorist group “sends a clear message that the UK will not tolerate Russia’s proxies and their barbaric actions in Ukraine.”
According to a release from last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky requested the group be treated as a terrorist organization.
“The UK has consistently called out the violent and destructive actions of Wagner Group, and included the group in a first wave of sanctions against Russia in early 2022,” the release said.
In July 2023, the U.K. sanctioned 13 individuals and businesses that were linked to the group.
The group’s founders, Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin, were killed with several others in a plane crash in August. Russian authorities have said the crash is still under investigation.
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