The European Union has added Russian oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin to its Libya sanctions list due to his ties to and support of the Wagner Group private military company (PMC), reports the latest volume of the Official Journal of the European Union.
The journal states that Prigozhin has “close links, including financially” to the Wagner PMC. In addition, according to the EU, the Wagner Group has repeatedly violated the arms embargo in Libya and has taken part in “multiple military operations against the UN-endorsed Government of National Accord.”
The United Kingdom later announced that it is imposing sanctions on Prigozhin, as well, deeming him “responsible for significant foreign mercenary activity in Libya and multiple breaches of the UN arms embargo.”
According to various estimates there are between 800–1,200 to 2,5000 Wagner Group mercenaries fighting in Libya. In April, the Libyan Government of the National Accord accused Russian mercenaries of using chemical weapons against their forces.
In January 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that if there are Wagner Group mercenaries in Syria, then “they don’t represent the interests of the Russian government.”
Russian national Maxim Shugaley, a political consultant linked to Evgeny Prigozhin, was arrested in Libya in June 2019. According to some reports, he was arrested allegedly for interfering in the Libyan elections. Other reports claim that his arrest was over a secret meeting with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (the son of late Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi), who is opposing the Government of National Accord. Officially, Shugaley was in Libya to conduct sociological research.