IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
February 14, 2023
Mr. Wicker (for himself, Mr. Cardin, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. Tillis, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Graham, Mr. Whitehouse, and Mr. Rubio) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
To designate the Russian-based mercenary Wagner Group as a foreign terrorist organization, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Holding Accountable Russian Mercenaries Act or the
Congress makes the following findings:
The Secretary of State's designation of an entity as a foreign terrorist organization results from a determination that—
the entity is foreign and engages in terrorism or terrorist activity; and
the terrorist activity threatens the security of the United States or its nationals.
The activities of the Wagner Group and affiliated entities of Russian national Yevgeniy Prigozhin pose a threat to the national interests and national security of the United States and allies and partners of the United States, including with respect to Russia’s war on Ukraine, which President Biden declared, on March 2, 2022,
pose[s] an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.
On June 20, 2017, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control designated the Wagner Group and its military leader, Dmitry Utkin, pursuant to Executive Order 13660 (50 U.S.C. 1701 note; relating to blocking property of certain persons contributing to the situation in Ukraine)
for being responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine.
On September 20, 2018, the Department of State added Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his affiliated entities, including the Wagner Group, to the list of persons identified as part of, or operating for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation under section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (22 U.S.C. 9525).
On January 20, 2023, a White House spokesperson announced that the Department of the Treasury will designate the Wagner Group as a significant transnational criminal organization pursuant to Executive Order 13581 (50 U.S.C. 1701 note; relating to blocking property of transnational criminal organizations), consistent with the authority granted to the President under section 203(a) of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1702).
The Wagner Group, a self-described private actor that undertakes military action and subversive operations at the behest of the Government of the Russian Federation, is a
terrorist group that engages in
terrorism (as defined in section 140(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. 2656f(d))), which is
premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.
The Wagner Group and its affiliated entities have committed, or are credibly accused of committing, terrorist activity (as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B))), through their involvement in—
the massacres, rape, and torture of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, in March 2022;
the massacres in Moura, Mali, in March 2022;
the massacres of migrant workers and civilians in mining regions along the Sudan- Central African Republic border in 2022;
the murder of Russian journalists in the Central African Republic in June 2018 as well as threats against United States journalists investigating such incident;
the kidnapping of children in the Central African Republic in 2022 to work in mines;
the rape and sex trafficking of women and children in the Central African Republic between 2018 and 2022;
the sabotage and lethal suppression of civilian protestors in Sudan in 2019;
the use of nerve agents against Libya’s Government of National Accord and deployment of illegal land mines and booby-traps in civilian areas of Tripoli between 2019 and 2020;
the torture and execution of a Syrian national in June 2017;
efforts to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in March 2022; and
the receipt of weapons shipments initially reported in December 2022 from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which the Secretary of State had designated a state sponsor of terrorism on November 20, 2017.
Sense of Congress
It is the sense of Congress that—
the Russian-based mercenary Wagner Group meets the criteria for designation by the Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189(a)); and
the Secretary of State should designate the Wagner Group as a foreign terrorist organization under such section 219(a).
Designation of the mercenary Wagner Group as a foreign terrorist organization
Upon the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall designate the Wagner Group as a foreign terrorist organization in accordance with section 219(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189(a)).
The designation required under subsection (a) shall equally apply to any affiliated and successor entities to the Wagner Group undertaking malign activities against the United States and its allies and partners, including activities taking place in Ukraine, Africa, and the Middle East.
The President may waive the application of sanctions under this section if the President determines and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that such a waiver is in the national security interest of the United States.
Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees describing the international activities of the Russian-based mercenary Wagner Group.
In this section, the term appropriate congressional committees means—
the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate;
the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate;
the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate;
the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives;
the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives;
the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives; and
the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives.