Washington sanctions three Malian officials for helping Wagner group

The United States announced sanctions on Monday targeting three Malian soldiers, including the current defense minister, for helping to “deploy and expand” operations in Mali by the Russian paramilitary group Wagner.

• Read more: “Wagner’s soldiers are beginning to press us”

The sanctions target three officers of the Malian army: Colonel Sadio Camara, the Minister of Defense, as well as Colonel Alou Boi Tiara and Lieutenant-Colonel Adama Bagaiogo, both air force officers.

In a statement from the Washington US Treasury, “there is evidence that these Malian officials contributed to the Wagner Group’s malicious activities in Mali.”

“Today’s action exposes key Malian officials who helped establish the Wagner Group in Mali over the past two years,” Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement.

“These officials have made their people vulnerable to the Wagner Group’s disruptive activities and human rights abuses, while paving the way for the exploitation of their country’s sovereign resources to benefit the Wagner Group’s operations in Ukraine,” he added.

The assets of the three officials in the United States have been frozen and they are prohibited from conducting transactions with US persons or entities.

According to Washington, since the arrival of the Wagner Group in Mali in December 2021, the number of civilians affected in this country has increased by 278%, mainly due to operations by Mali’s armed forces with members of the Wagner Group.

Sanctions were lifted by the US against the group in June 2017 and then re-imposed last January.

The future of Wagner, who has fought in Ukraine and whose presence is confirmed in several African countries and Syria, is in question after a 24-hour uprising led by his boss Evgeny Prigozhin in Russia in June.

Moscow said its future in Africa “depends on the countries concerned”.

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