Saturday, June 10, 2023

U.S. warns Wagner against arms acquisition in Mali, sanctions leader

Wagner mercenaries have fought alongside regular Russian troops in Ukraine, including in some of the most intense battles.

• May 26, 2023
Wagner mercenaries
Wagner mercenaries [photo:]

The U.S. on Thursday said Russian mercenary force Wagner Group might be working through Mali and other countries to hide its efforts to acquire military equipment for use in Ukraine and accused it of supplying a Sudanese paramilitary with surface-to-air missiles.

In a statement, the U.S. Treasury Department said it imposed sanctions on Wagner’s chief in Mali as it said the group’s employees might have been attempting to work through the West African country to acquire equipment such as mines, drones, radar and counter-battery systems for use in Ukraine.

The U.S. has repeatedly warned of what it says are Wagner’s destabilising activities and has ramped up sanctions against the private army following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Wagner mercenaries have fought alongside regular Russian troops in Ukraine, including in some of the most intense battles.

On Monday, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller warned that Wagner was seeking to transit military equipment through Mali.

On Wednesday, Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, dismissed the U.S. allegations as a “hoax.”

“Treasury’s sanctions against the most senior Wagner Group representative in Mali identify and disrupt a key operative supporting the group’s global activities,” the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement.

“The Wagner Group’s presence on the African continent is a destabilising force for any country that allows for the deployment of the group’s resources into their sovereign territory,” stated Mr Nelson.

The Treasury accused Wagner of supplying Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) with surface-to-air missiles, which could boost the paramilitary group’s fight against the Sudanese army, which is heavily reliant on air strikes to target the RSF.

Fighting between the two parties that broke out last month has worsened a humanitarian crisis, forced more than 1.3 million people to flee and threatened to destabilise a fragile region.

The head of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, has cultivated ties with Russia.

Western diplomats in Khartoum said in 2022 that Wagner was involved in illicit gold mining in Sudan and was spreading disinformation.

Mr Dagalo previously said he advised Sudan to cut ties to Wagner after the U.S. imposed sanctions on the private military contractor. 

Wagner said on April 19 that it was no longer operating in Sudan.

The Treasury slapped sanctions on Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov, who it described as the head of Wagner paramilitary units and its principal administrator based in Mali. It accused him of closely coordinating with Malian government officials to execute the group’s deployment in Mali.

Thursday’s action freezes any of Maslov’s U.S. assets and generally bars Americans from dealing with him.

Mali’s government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Western countries have raised concerns over Wagner’s activities in Mali since late 2021.

The West African country, whose leaders seized power in a 2021 coup, and Russia have previously maintained that Russian forces there are not mercenaries but trainers helping local troops with equipment bought from Russia. 


We have recently deactivated our website's comment provider in favour of other channels of distribution and commentary. We encourage you to join the conversation on our stories via our Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages.

More from Peoples Gazette

Katsina State


Katsina youths pledge to deliver over 2 million votes to Atiku

“Katsina State is Atiku’s political base because it is his second home.”

CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele


SSS arrests suspended Emefiele

This comes after President Bola Tinubu suspended Mr Emefiele, replacing him with Adebisi Sonubi, the deputy governor in charge of operations.

Rivers United, Enyimba and Remo Stars


NPFL Super 6: Rivers United, Enyimba, Remo Stars record wins

Mbaoma Chijioke, who stepped in for sick Emeka Obioma, scored the fastest goal of the playoffs so far to put Enyimba upfront in the third minute.

Caleb Mutfwang


Genocide ongoing in Plateau state; 150 killed in last three weeks: Caleb Mutfwang

The governor said Mr Tinubu had assured him that the country’s security architecture would be rejigged to tackle insecurity across the country.

Ganduje and Kwankwaso


Kwankwaso escaped my slap at Presidential Villa: Ganduje

Mr Ganduje also said he had petitioned the police to address the looting and vandalisation that trailed the demolition.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu [Photo: officialABAT]


I will run an open government, Tinubu assures traditional rulers

‘‘We may not have it right 100 per cent of the time but we must get it right 90 per cent of the time for this country,’’ he said.