Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's recent comments on the financing of the Wagner PMC were "direct evidence" that the mercenaries were an illegal part of the Russian army in the war against Ukraine.
This is reported with reference to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Andriy Kostin in a comment to Reuters.
Last week, Putin said that the Wagner PMC and its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, received almost $2 billion from Russia last year.
While Russia is trying to separate the Wagner PMC forces from its military, Putin's comments on state budget spending on mercenaries were "like direct evidence that they are not only de facto, but probably, illegally, also are part of the Russian army," Kostin said.
The use of mercenaries by states in armed conflicts is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.
According to Kostin, among the more than 93,000 cases of potential war crimes investigated by the Prosecutor General's Office, there were many atrocities committed by Wagner troops.
The Prosecutor General noted that their atrocities are "among the most severe crimes against our civilians and our prisoners of war".
Kostin also added that the Wagner PMC poses a threat not only to Ukraine, but also to peace and security in many countries, including Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
Kostin appealed to allies, including the United States and Britain, to recognize the Wagner PMC as a terrorist organization so that it can be brought to justice and its assets frozen.
"Prigozhin is already a suspect in criminal proceedings in Ukraine, but the main thing is to stop the activity of such groups," he said.
Author – Anastasiya Glotova, 03/07/2023