Russia's mercenary Wagner Group will soon be declared a terrorist organisation, the Home Office has said.
A draft proscription order will be laid against the group in the UK Parliament on Wednesday.
The group has played a prominent role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine since the conflict began in February last year. It recruited thousands of convicts from Russian prisons to fight in Ukraine, providing the main assault force for Russia's 2022-2023 winter offensive there.
It has also operated in Syria, Libya and a number of countries across northern and western Africa.
Once passed, the order will make it illegal to be a member of or support the Wagner Group.
Wagner’s assets can also be categorised as terrorist property and therefore subject to seizure.
Certain proscription offences can be punishable by up to 14 years in jail.
Proscription of the group comes after consideration of the nature and scale of the organisation’s activities as well as the threat they pose to British citizens abroad, the Home Office added.
“Wagner is a violent and destructive organisation which has acted as a military tool of [President] Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas,” Home Secretary Suella Braverman said.
“While Putin’s regime decides what to do with the monster it created, Wagner’s continuing destabilising activities only continue to serve the Kremlin’s political goals.
“They are terrorists, plain and simple – and this proscription order makes that clear in UK law. Wagner has been involved in looting, torture and barbarous murders. Its operations in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa are a threat to global security.
“That is why we are proscribing this terrorist organisation and continuing to aid Ukraine wherever we can in its fight against Russia.”
It comes after Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash last month.
The crash occurred exactly two months after Mr Prigozhin mounted a short-lived armed rebellion against Russia’s military leadership, posing the biggest challenge to Mr Putin’s authority in his 23-year rule.
Britain sanctioned Mr Prigozhin in 2020, the Wagner Group as a whole in March 2022, and in July this year sanctioned individuals and businesses with links to the group in the Central African Republic, Mali and Sudan.