The European Union announced on Saturday the imposition of new sanctions against executives of the Russian mercenary group Wagner and entities linked to it due to “violations of human rights” in Africa, targeting in particular the head of its forces in Mali and its executives in the Central African Republic.

Eleven individuals, 9 in Africa and 2 in Ukraine, and seven entities linked to the mercenary company were added to the European blacklist and face asset freezes and travel bans.

The Wagner group itself, which is actively involved in the Russian military’s war in Ukraine, is under EU sanctions as early as 2021.

The new sanctions were decided due to “the international dimension and gravity of the group’s activities, as well as their destabilizing impact on the countries where it operates”, according to a European Council press release.

“The activities of the Wagner group are a threat to the peoples of the countries where it operates and to the European Union,” said the head of European diplomacy, Giuseppe Borrell, according to the announcement.

The European Council clarified that the eight members of Wagner and the seven entities concerned by the new sanctions are registered in the global sanctions regime due to human rights violations that was created in 2020 and related in particular to the company’s action in the Central African Republic and Sudan.

Wagner’s ninth member is under EU sanctions specifically for the company’s actions in Mali. He is the head of its forces in the African country, where its men are “involved in violent acts and multiple human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions.”

Minerals and diamonds

Several of those targeted by European sanctions in the Central African Republic are top Wagner executives, including President Fostan Arkanz Tuandera’s “security adviser” and the group’s representative in the country.

Wagner went to the Central African Republic at the invitation of Mr. Tuandera to help quell an armed rebellion, and her increasingly imposing presence prompted the withdrawal of French military forces late last year.

Companies involved in the mining and trading of gold and diamonds linked to Wagner in the Central African Republic and Sudan are also targeted by European sanctions.

A radio station in the Central African Republic, Lengo Sengo, was also added to the blacklist for “engaging in online influence operations on behalf of Russia and the Wagner Group to manipulate public opinion.”

The mercenary company Wagner, founded in 2014, is designated by the US as an international terrorist organization. The US, which has been trying for years to limit Russian influence in Africa, accuses the Wagner group of “committing human rights violations and extorting natural resources in Africa.”

The group has become a major player in the war in Ukraine. His mercenaries were also involved in operations in Syria and Libya.

Two more executives of the Wagner company have been added to the list of those subject to sanctions by the EU because of the war in Ukraine. These are Wagner unit commanders who played a leading role in the capture of the Ukrainian city of Solentar in January.