Baltic parliament speakers call on EU to label Wagner as terrorist group

  • 2023-06-28
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – In response to Wagner's actions and the recent developments in Russia, the Baltic parliamentary speakers signed on Wednesday a joint declaration calling on the European Union to label the mercenary group as terrorist organization and tighten sanctions against Belarus for "harboring" it.

The document also calls on NATO to "continue strengthening collective defense and deterrence and border security" in its eastern flank bordering Russia and Belarus, and to "start a substantive process of inviting Ukraine to join NATO" at the July 11-12 summit in Vilnius.

The declaration comes after Yevgeny Prigozhin's troops took control of military sites in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don last weekend and threatened to march on Moscow to overthrow the country's military leadership.

"While the recent 'march of justice' on Moscow by Prigozhin's Wagner mercenary group is Russia's internal matter, it is yet another sign of the unpredictability of Russia," the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian parliamentary speakers said. 

They note that the Baltic parliaments "have long labelled the Wagner mercenary group as terrorist organization for the atrocities committed by its members on the territory of Ukraine and against the Ukrainian population".

"We reiterate our call on the EU to include the Wagner mercenary group in the list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts (EU terrorist list) not least for the violence and instability the group spreads on the African continent and elsewhere."

The speakers warn that Wagner's emergence in Belarus "could make the security situation on the eastern borders of NATO and the EU even more precarious". 

"We reiterate our condemnation of Lukashenko's regime in Belarus for supporting Russia's war against Ukraine," they said.

"The harboring of the terrorist organization Wagner group by Belarus is unacceptable and we call for further strengthening sanctions against Belarus."

Russia's military aggression against Ukraine remains the biggest threat to European security since World War Two, according to the declaration. 

"We call on the whole international community to increase the support to Ukraine in its ongoing struggle for freedom and territorial integrity," the speakers said.

"We must continue our efforts to help Ukraine to win not only its fight for freedom, but also its fight for justice. We call on establishment of the special international tribunal under the auspices of the UN General Assembly to prosecute the crime of aggression committed by the leadership of the Russian Federation."