Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Russian Wagner Group declared terrorists [September 2023]

The press release issued by the Home Office on 6 September 2023.

A draft proscription order is being laid in Parliament today, making it illegal to support Wagner Group and punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has today (6 September) laid before Parliament a draft order to proscribe Wagner Group under the Terrorism Act 2000. Wagner Group is a proxy military force of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which operates across the globe.

Once agreed, the order will come into force on 13 September, making it a criminal offence to belong to, encourage support for, assist or use the logo of that group. Certain proscription offences can be punishable by up to 14 years in prison, which can be handed down alongside or in place of a fine.

Wagner’s assets can also be categorised as terrorist property and seized.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:

Wagner is a violent and destructive organisation which has acted as a military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas. While Putin’s regime decides what to do with the monster it created, Wagner’s continuing destabilising activities only continue to serve the Kremlin’s political goals.

They are terrorists, plain and simple – and this proscription order makes that clear in UK law. Wagner has been involved in looting, torture and barbarous murders. Its operations in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa are a threat to global security.

That is why we are proscribing this terrorist organisation and continuing to aid Ukraine wherever we can in its fight against Russia.

Wagner Group is a Russian private military company which has acted as a proxy military force on behalf of the Russian state. Founded in 2014, Wagner has operated in a series of countries including most notably Ukraine, Syria, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Mozambique and Mali.

Wagner has operated in the pursuit of Russia’s foreign policy objectives and the objectives of host governments who have contracted Wagner’s services.

The UK has consistently called out the violent and destructive actions of Wagner Group, and included the group in a first wave of sanctions against Russia in early 2022, and more recently sanctioned an additional 13 individuals and businesses linked to the actions of the group in July 2023.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said:

Proscription names Wagner Group for what they truly are: terrorists.

This is a murderous organisation which is responsible for committing atrocities across the world.

Proscribing Wagner sends a clear message that the UK will not tolerate Russia’s proxies and their barbaric actions in Ukraine, and condemns Wagner’s campaign of corruption and bloodshed on the African continent, which has been repeatedly linked to human rights violations.

Proscribing the group comes after the Home Secretary’s careful consideration of:

  • the nature and scale of organisation’s activities
  • the threat they pose to British nationals overseas
  • the need to support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism

Despite recent events, including the group’s attempted coup against Moscow and the alleged death of its leadership, the threat from Wagner Group continues to endure.

Designating the Wagner Group for proscription is also a response to requests made by Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy who has called for the group to be treated as a terrorist organisation. The UK will maintain its unwavering support for Ukraine and continue to condemn Russian aggression.

The order will be debated in Parliament this week and once passed, Wagner Group will become the 79th organisation to be proscribed in the UK.

Other groups who have been proscribed by the British government include al-Qaeda, ISIS and Hizballah.