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USA: Wagner's new 'criminal organisation' label is 'another tool to hold Group's seniors to account' - State Department spox03:47

USA: Wagner's new 'criminal organisation' label is 'another tool to hold Group's seniors to account' - State Department spox

United States, Washington DC
January 24, 2023 at 12:41 GMT +00:00 · Published

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price claimed that the administration’s plan to designate the Wagner private military group as a 'transnational criminal organisation' would help it 'hold senior officials to account', during a White House briefing in Washington DC on Monday.

"The activity that we’ve seen on the part of the Wagner Group allows us to meet that threshold that is established under the transnational criminal organisation authority," he claimed.

"It is engaging in activity out of a pursuit of in some ways a profit, in some ways prestige; it is employing officials who are criminals," Price alleged. "[The designation] provides us another tool to hold the Wagner Group, its other senior officials, and its employees to account."

On Friday, the US administration said it would announce further sanctions on the group, which has been increasingly active on the Russian side of the Ukraine conflict.

Founder Yevgeny Prigozhin's press service responded, asking the White House to "clarify what crime was committed by PMC Wagner".

Washington sanctioned Wagner in 2017 and 2022, while the EU imposed its own in 2021. The organisation has also worked in Syria, Libya , Sudan and other countries.

Meanwhile, Price also defended the German contribution to the Ukraine conflict, following a row over Berlin’s indecision on sending Leopard 2 tanks.

"Germany is a stalwart ally across the board, including in the context of the security assistance that it has provided to Ukraine," he said. "Germany has stepped up. Germany has stepped up in a big way."

Media reports suggested Chancellor Olaf Scholz was waiting for the US to send its own Abrams tanks before committing Leopards - which the Pentagon has ruled out.

The spokesperson also discussed a package of sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies, mirroring action by the UK and EU over the 'regime’s human rights abuses'.

The actions come following a crackdown on widespread protests in the country, after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Iran has accused Western countries of fuelling tensions and said it would take action to deal with 'riots'.

USA: Wagner's new 'criminal organisation' label is 'another tool to hold Group's seniors to account' - State Department spox03:47
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US State Department spokesperson Ned Price claimed that the administration’s plan to designate the Wagner private military group as a 'transnational criminal organisation' would help it 'hold senior officials to account', during a White House briefing in Washington DC on Monday.

"The activity that we’ve seen on the part of the Wagner Group allows us to meet that threshold that is established under the transnational criminal organisation authority," he claimed.

"It is engaging in activity out of a pursuit of in some ways a profit, in some ways prestige; it is employing officials who are criminals," Price alleged. "[The designation] provides us another tool to hold the Wagner Group, its other senior officials, and its employees to account."

On Friday, the US administration said it would announce further sanctions on the group, which has been increasingly active on the Russian side of the Ukraine conflict.

Founder Yevgeny Prigozhin's press service responded, asking the White House to "clarify what crime was committed by PMC Wagner".

Washington sanctioned Wagner in 2017 and 2022, while the EU imposed its own in 2021. The organisation has also worked in Syria, Libya , Sudan and other countries.

Meanwhile, Price also defended the German contribution to the Ukraine conflict, following a row over Berlin’s indecision on sending Leopard 2 tanks.

"Germany is a stalwart ally across the board, including in the context of the security assistance that it has provided to Ukraine," he said. "Germany has stepped up. Germany has stepped up in a big way."

Media reports suggested Chancellor Olaf Scholz was waiting for the US to send its own Abrams tanks before committing Leopards - which the Pentagon has ruled out.

The spokesperson also discussed a package of sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies, mirroring action by the UK and EU over the 'regime’s human rights abuses'.

The actions come following a crackdown on widespread protests in the country, after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Iran has accused Western countries of fuelling tensions and said it would take action to deal with 'riots'.