France wants to persuade the EU to list Wagner mercenaries as 'terrorist group'

The resolution, which is non-binding, passed with unanimous support across the political spectrum.

“Wherever they work, Wagner members spread instability and violence,” French lawmaker Benjamin Haddad said.

“They kill and torture. They massacre and pillage. They intimidate and manipulate with almost total impunity.”

Haddad said he hoped it would encourage the 27-member bloc to put Wagner on its official list of terrorist organisations.

The Ukrainian president thanked French lawmakers for adopting the resolution.

“Special thanks to the French parliament for today's decision to recognize the Russian pseudo-private Wagner group as a terrorist organisation,"

This is something that should be adopted by the entire world – every manifestation of terrorism must be destroyed, and every terrorist must be convicted,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Britain is set to formally proscribe Russia's mercenary force Wagner group as a terrorist organisation to increase pressure on Russia.

In February, the Ukrainian parliament recognised Wagner as an international criminal organisation and called on foreign governments to do the same.

AP/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner Group military company, arrives during a funeral ceremony at the Troyekurovskoye cemetery in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, April 8, 2023 - AP/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

The US Treasury Department designated Wagner Group mercenaries as a “significant transnational criminal organisation” and imposed sanctions on its support network worldwide in January.

Recently, the European Council sanctioned an additional 11 individuals and seven entities linked to Wagner's crime, both on the African continent and in Ukraine.

Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and his closest family members have already been put under financial sanctions by a number of countries, including the US and Ukraine in 2022 and the UK in 2020.

Sending a 'political message'

"It is a question of sending a political, symbolic message, a signal of denunciation of Wagner and his activities – which deliberately target civilians for political gain – as terrorism", Benjamin Haddad argued.

The text quotes in particular the German intelligence services, according to which Wagner "took part in the summary executions, the mutilations, and the acts of torture committed against civilians in the Ukrainian locality of Boutcha."

In addition to Ukraine, the resolution also notes abuses in Syria and in several African countries, such as Mali or the Central African Republic.