Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The US imposes sanctions on the leader of the Wagner Group in Mali

WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States imposed sanctions Thursday on the head of the Wagner Group in Mali for its role in what it said was an attempt by the Kremlin to use the African nation as a weapons station for Russian forces in Ukraine.

The Treasury Department sanctions are directed at local Wagner Group official Ivan Maslov and refer to unspecified allegations that his staff tried to deliver tunnels, drones and other weapons systems from abroad to Russian fighters in Ukraine.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller addressed those US suspicions earlier in the week. “We haven’t seen, so far, any indication that these acquisitions have been completed or executed, but we’re watching things very closely,” Miller said.

Led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Wagner Group is a private military contractor whose paramilitary forces are fighting on behalf of Russia in Ukraine, and are also increasing Russia’s influence in expanding countries in the southern hemisphere.

In Africa, the Wagner Group has broken ground in Mali, the Central African Republic, Libya and elsewhere, providing security to often autocratic national leaders, often in exchange for a share of local gold and other resource extraction.

Regional experts and others accuse the Kremlin of using its operations in Mali and elsewhere in Africa as a source of funding and logistics center for the invasion of Ukraine. Russia denies any wrongdoing.

The United States has sanctioned the Wagner Group and its leadership in Russia for the attack on Ukraine and for human rights abuses since at least 2017.

Nation World News Desk
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