The European Union on Thursday sanctioned the Wagner private military company, which is financed by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin. File Photo by Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA
April 14 (UPI) -- The European Union has added the Wagner Group to its list of sanctioned entities and individuals for aiding Russia in its war in Ukraine.
The designation was announced Thursday after the European Council, the 27-member bloc's collegiate body, decided that the private military company was subject to restrictive measures for "undermining the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine."
The move also completes what it called its Wagner package of sanctions adopted on Feb. 25 that targeted 11 people and seven entities linked to the private military.
"Russia must stop its aggression and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces and proxies from the entire territory of Ukraine within its intentionally recognized borders," it said in a statement.
"The EU stands firmly and fully with Ukraine and will continue to provide strong, political, economic, military, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine and its people for as long as it takes."
The Wagner Group, which was already under EU and U.S. sanctions, has troops on the ground fighting Russia's war in Ukraine and is leading the attack against the Ukrainian towns of Soledar and Bakhmut.
The military was established in 2014 and is led by Dimitriy Utkin and financed by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has been blacklisted by the United States and is known as "Putin's chef" over his ownership of restaurants and catering companies and his close relationship to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the Wagner Group is more of an umbrella organization for multiple entities under Prigozhin's control, and its utilization in the Ukrainian war has increased since the Russian military suffered a series of embarrassing defeats on the battlefield last year.
The EU on Thursday also blacklisted RIA FAN, which is part of the Patriot Media Group where Prigozhin heads its board of trustees. The sanctions were applied on accusations that it is "involved in pro-government propaganda and disinformation on Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine," it said.
Since the war began on Feb. 24, 2022, the EU has imposed 10 Russia-related sanctions packages, blacklisting a total of 1,473 people and 207 entities.