Russia’s Wagner chief writes to White House over new U.S. sanctions

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White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Friday that Wagner, who has long supported Russian forces in their invasion of Ukraine and claims credit for battlefield advances, will be designated a significant Transnational Criminal Organization.

A letter in English addressed to Kirby and posted on the Telegram channel of Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin’s press service reads: “Dear Mr. Kirby, Can you please clarify what crime was committed by PMC Wagner?”

Kirby called Wagner a “criminal organization that is committing widespread atrocities and human rights abuses”.

Last month, the White House said Wagner had taken a shipment of weapons from North Korea to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry called the report baseless and Prigozhin at the time denied taking such a delivery, calling the report “gossip and speculation”.

Washington had already imposed curbs on trade with Wagner in 2017 and again in December in an attempt to restrict his access to weapons.

The European Union imposed its own sanctions in December 2021 on Wagner, who was active in Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Mozambique and Mali, as well as the -Ukraine.

Prigozhin described Wagner as a completely independent force with its own planes, tanks, rockets and artillery.

He is wanted in the United States for interfering in the US elections, something he said in November that he had done and would continue to do.

(Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Helen Popper)

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