Following a Government statement on reports that the UK Government assisted Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin in circumventing the UK sanctions regime, Harriett Baldwin calls on the Government to instigate a ‘red flag’ system at the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation so that anything related to the Wagner Group is flagged up individually to the Minister responsible.
Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con)
Although we cannot discuss a specific case, “Wagner Group” is written on the Annunciator and I wanted to add a further question about the regime that we are operating within the Treasury. I urge the Minister to go further than he committed to doing in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns), the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, because the Wagner Group is clearly such an evil organisation and what it is doing in Ukraine and across north Africa is so evil. Will the Minister today, from the Dispatch Box, ask OFSI officials to have a red flag system whereby anything related to the Wagner Group is flagged up individually to the Minister responsible?
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (James Cartlidge)
My hon. Friend speaks with the expertise of her position as Chair of the Treasury Committee, and I hear what she is saying. I have said that the internal review will take place. She is more than welcome to write to me in her capacity as Chair about that, and I will reply in due course.
My hon. Friend makes the point that this question is about the Wagner Group but that we are saying that we are not commenting on the cases of specific individuals. As a Government, we are absolutely clear:
“The Wagner Group is a Russia-based private military company”.
It has organised the recruitment, co-ordination and planned operations of mercenaries participating in military operations in Ukraine. It is responsible for engaging in and providing support for actions that destabilise Ukraine and undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine.
That is why the most important question is: what are we doing to support Ukraine? Opposition Members have mentioned the Prime Minister, so let us talk about what he did as Chancellor. He was the one who put in place £2.3 billion of military support for Ukraine, which helped the Ukrainians to defend themselves against Russia so that the fight is still being fought to this day.