Recently, a UK report on Russia’s Wagner Group has once again restarted calls for the UK government to designate Wagner as a terrorist organization. This follows the Lithuanian parliament’s unanimous proclamation of the Wagner Group as a terrorist organization in March and, a month later, the French parliament’s unanimous adoption of a nonbinding resolution calling on the EU to designate Wagner as a terrorist organization. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed such initiatives, urging that “every manifestation of terrorism must be destroyed, and every terrorist must be convicted.” Given the brazen atrocities Wagner has committed in Ukraine and elsewhere, the calls to further sanction the group are definitely understandable. However, the Wagner Group hardly qualifies as a terrorist organization. Rather, it is the Kremlin’s quasi-state agent of influence and should be treated as such. Not all entities that commit atrocities and crimes against humanity are terrorist groups and designating them would be a dangerous slippery slope.
Elena Pokalova is a professor at the National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs and the author of “The Wagner Group in Africa: Russia’s Quasi-State Agent of Influence,” published in July 2023 in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.
Image credit: Information agency BelTA, via Wikimedia Commons
Read more: Source: https://mwi.westpoint.edu/the-problem-with-designating-the-wagner-group-as-a-terrorist-organization/