The UK announced Friday that it had officially proscribed the Wagner Group as a terrorist organization, making it an offense to “belong, or profess to belong, to a proscribed organisation in the UK or overseas.” The move comes several weeks after the government presented a bill containing the proscription to Parliament on September 6.
Despite the Friday announcement, the order officially came into force on Wednesday, September 13. With the order in place, any association or assistance of the Wagner Group carries with it a criminal sentence of up to 14 years in prison.
Chair of the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Alicia Kearns lauded the move on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday, stating that she was “[p]leased the Home Secretary has accepted the recommendation fo the Foreign Affairs Committee and proscribed the Wagner Network.” Similarly, Security Minister Tom Tugedhat said, “[The] [p]roscription names them for what they truly are. Terrorists.”
On July 26, a report from the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee that called upon the UK government to designate the Wagner Group as a terrorist organization. The committee released the report shortly after Wagner Group members stopped short of marching on Moscow, Russia. The report urged, “The UK Government [to] seize this opportunity to deter countries and individuals from engaging with the Wagner Network, and to marshal Government efforts to monitor and assess the ambitions and impacts of Private Military Companies (PMCs).”
The Wagner Group is a PMC that has gained attention for its involvement in conflicts, particularly in several African nations, Syria and Ukraine. While it is officially a private organization, there is evidence to suggest that it has close ties to the Russian government and operates as a proxy force for Russian interests. That said, the Russian government has never formally acknowledged the Wagner Group’s affiliation with the state.
The Wagner Group now joins 78 other organizations on the UK register of terror groups.