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US Sanctions Malian Officials For Working With Wagner Group

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The United States has put sanctions on Malian minister of defense including two others on Monday for facilitating the stationing and expansion of the Russian Wagner Group’s activities in Mali.

According to the US Treasury Department, its sanctions on the West African nation’s Minister of Defense, Sadio Camara, were imposed due to his many trips to Russia in 2021 to make a pact with the Wagner Group to have it positioned in Mali.

Along with Malian defence minister, the US Department also imposed sanctions on Chief of Staff of the Air Force Alou Boi Diarra and Malian Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Adama Bagayoko. Brian Nelson, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said, “These officials have made their people vulnerable to the Wagner Group’s destabilizing activities and human rights abuses while paving the way for the exploitation of their country’s sovereign resources to the benefit of the Wagner Group’s operations in Ukraine.” As part of the sanctions, all the US assets designated for Mali have been put on freeze apart from which US officials and people are prohibited from dealing with Malians.

However, Russia and Mali have stated that fighters from Russia engaged in the latter country are not from the Russian Wagner Group but trained soldiers helping the African nation combat Islamist insurgency going on for a decade.

The US Treasury claimed that Diarra had collaborated with Camara to make the strategy of bringing the Wagner Group into Mali successful and also collaborating with the head of the Wagner Group, also sanctioned by the US.

According to the Treasury, Bagayoko represented the Wagner Group’s interests before the transitional government of Burkina Faso in an effort to obtain the deployment of the force there. He also reportedly tried to make it easier for the Wagner Group to access gold mining in Mali.

Ibrahim Traore, the interim president of Burkina Faso, denied the presence of Wagner soldiers in his nation in May. His remarks came after President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana claimed in December that Burkina Faso had employed the mercenaries.

Wagner has participated in battle in the Central African Republic, Mali, Libya, Syria, and other nations. The group also took part in some of the fiercest battles in the bloody conflict in Ukraine. It was established in 2014 after Russia seized control of the Crimean Peninsula and began backing pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

As Washington has intensified sanctions against the private army in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, it has previously placed sanctions on Wagner and frequently warned of what it claims are Wagner’s destabilising activities.

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