After Washington announced new sanctions against the group, the head of Russian private military contractor Wagner issued a brief letter to the White House on Saturday asking what crimes his company was accused of.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Friday that Wagner, who helped Russia invade Ukraine and claims credit for its battlefield advances, will be designated a major transnational criminal organization. He said he would.
A letter in English to Kirby, posted on the Telegram channel of Wagner founder Evgeny Prigozhin’s press service, read:
Kirby called Wagner “a pervasive criminal organization of atrocities and human rights abuses”.
Last month, the White House said Wagner received arms shipments from North Korea to help build up Russian forces in Ukraine.
North Korea’s foreign ministry called the report baseless, and Prigozhin denied such a delivery at the time, calling the report “gossip and speculation.”
Washington had already imposed trade restrictions with Wagner in 2017 and December to restrict access to weapons.
The European Union has imposed its own sanctions in December 2021 against Wagner operating in Syria, Libya, Central African Republic, Sudan, Mozambique, Mali, and Ukraine.
Prigogine describes Wagner as a completely independent force with its own aircraft, tanks, rockets and artillery.
He is wanted in the United States for meddling in US elections, and said he did and will continue to do so in November.