Lithuania’s parliament declares Wagner mercenary company a terrorist organization
Wagner Center in Russia (Photo:REUTERS/Igor Russak)
The Seimas, Lithuania’s parliament, has designated Russia’s Wagner private military company (PMC) as a terrorist organization, the BNS news agency reported on March 14.
The bill stipulates that Russia’s Wagner PMC is a terrorist organization and its members and mercenaries pose a threat to the state’s security and society.
In total, 117 parliamentarians backed the resolution.
The Lithuanian parliament strongly condemned the use of any mercenary groups, like Wagner, to commit crimes of aggression in Ukraine. Wagner was created with the support of the Russian authorities, specifically Russia’s GRU military intelligence.
“Since the beginning of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the military personnel of the Russian Federation and mercenaries of the Wagner private military company, which is actively involved in hostilities on the side of the aggressor, have been committing systematic serious crimes of aggression, such as killing and torturing the civilian population of Ukraine, bombing residential buildings and other civilian facilities, which is equivalent to terrorism,” the document says.
Wagner PMC was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman close to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
The organization is a shadow tool of the Russian government as it receives Russian military equipment, including Grad multiple launch rockets systems, tanks, and armored vehicles, and uses Russian military infrastructure.
According to Lauryno Kasčiūno, one of the authors of the resolution and Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence chair, such companies are increasingly used in Russia’s military conflicts, as evidenced in Ukraine.
“A just-released public threat assessment of our Lithuanian intelligence services states that such private military and security companies may conduct limited operations against Lithuania, related mainly to non-kinetic activities,” the politician said.
Kasčiūno noted that Western European countries continue to record cases where Russian private military and security companies are engaged in providing self-defense combat training, first aid courses, and similar services.
“It’s important for us not to allow Russia to erase the border between war and peace, to impose an agenda of hybrid threats on us, so that in case of aggression, Russia will not be responsible for the operations of allegedly private military security companies,” he said.
The adopted resolution also called on other countries to designate Russia’s Wagner PMC as a terrorist organization.
The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, declared Russia’s Wagner Group an international criminal organization on Feb. 6.
Earlier on Jan. 26, the United States designated Russia’s Wagner Group mercenary company as a “significant transnational criminal organization” and expanded sanctions against it.
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