France pushes EU to list Wagner as a terrorist group

Briefly: The French parliament passed a resolution designating Russian mercenary group Wagner a terrorist organisation on Tuesday (9 May). Now, it’s calling on the European Union to do the same.

Wagner Group has gained notoriety via the Russo-Ukraine War, but it’s also fought in places like Syria and Mali, where it’s been accused of war crimes.

And the EU has piled sanctions on Wagner already, but placing the organisation on the same level as ISIS and al-Qaeda would mean:

  • 🚓 Membership of Wagner would become a criminal offence
  • 💰 Wagner’s financial assets could be frozen by any EU country
  • 👔 EU firms would be barred from doing business with the group, and
  • 🙅‍♀️ Wagner clients (including governments) could be sanctioned

Intrigue’s take: But would any of this make a material difference? Maybe.

For Ukraine, blacklisting Wagner would be a show of moral support: its troops wouldn’t just be defending themselves against an invading force, but against terrorists too.

For Wagner’s clients in parts of Africa, the threat of sanctions might encourage governments to ditch their Russian mercenaries. This could shrink Wagner’s revenue, but would irritate some African leaders already wary of European meddling.

And some observers have also queried whether it’s all worth the risk of further escalation with Russia.

Also worth noting:

  • Britain will designate Wagner as a terrorist organisation “imminently”. In the US, debate continues on whether to follow suit.
  • The French call to blacklist Wagner comes after Wagner fighters replaced French troops in former French colonies like Mali and Burkina Faso.