Russian mercenary group Wagner will be declared a terrorist organisation, the Home Office has said.
A draft proscription order will be laid in parliament on Wednesday, which will make it illegal to be a member of, or support the Russian group in the UK.
Certain proscription offences can be punishable by up to 14 years in jail.
As part of the order, Wagner’s assets can be categorised as terrorist property and seized.
The group, which was led by Yevgeny Prigozhin until he was killed in a plane crash last month, has played a prominent role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It has also been active in conflicts in Syria, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Libya.
Image: Yevgeny Prigozhin’s grave at the Porokhovskoye cemetery The Home Office said it considered the nature and scale of the organisation’s activities as well as the threat they pose to British nationals abroad in deciding on the proscription order.
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.
Image: A woman walks by a repainted mural depicting the logo of Russia’s Wagner Group on a wall in Belgrade, Serbia Pic: AP “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.”
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Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has previously called for Wagner to be treated as a terrorist organisation.
The crash that killed Prigozhin occurred exactly two months after he mounted a short-lived armed rebellion against Russia’s military leadership, posing the biggest challenge to Mr Putin’s authority in his 23-year rule.