US imposes sanctions on Mali officials over alleged ties with Wagner Group

US imposes sanctions on Mali officials over alleged ties with Wagner Group

WASHINGTON DC: The United States has imposed sanctions on three Malian government and military officials, including Defence Minister, for “facilitating the deployment and expansion” of Russia’s Wagner Group’s activities in Mali.

In a statement on Monday, the US Department of the Treasury said that it has imposed sanctions on three Malian transition government and military officials — Colonel Sadio Camara (Defence Minister of Mali), Colonel Alou Boi Diarra (Mali’s Chief of Staff of the Air Force) and Lieutenant Colonel Adama Bagayoko (Malian Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff)– for facilitating the deployment and expansion of the Wagner Group’s activities in Mali.
It further stated that this development is based on evidence showing that these Malian officials have contributed to the Wagner Group’s malicious activities in Mali.

“Today’s action exposes the principal Malian officials who have been instrumental in facilitating the Wagner Group’s entrenchment in Mali over the past two years,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E Nelson.

He further stated, “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.”

Mali’s Defence Minister Colonel Camara made several trips to Russia in 2021 to solidify an agreement between the Wagner Group and the Malian transition government to deploy the mercenary force to the West African country, the statement read.

While, Colonel Diarra in his previous role as Air Logistics Chief, significantly contributed to the logistical movement of Russian entities in Mali.

The statement further read, “Together, Camara and Diarra formulated and executed the plan that ultimately ushered the Wagner Group into Mali. On several occasions, Diarra accompanied Camara on trips to Russia to cement the deployment agreement between the Wagner Group and the Malian transition government.”

Lieutenant Colonel Bagayoko, serves as an advocate for the Wagner Group to the Burkinabe transition government, working to secure the Wagner Group’s deployment to Burkina Faso.

In June, the United States said it was concerned about the Wagner Group’s destabilizing activities in Africa and accused the leader of the mercenary force of helping to engineer the departure of UN peacekeepers from Mali.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters last month that the US has information indicating Mali’s transition government has paid more than USD 200 million to Wagner since late 2021.

However, the US assured that as the largest bilateral donor of development and humanitarian assistance to Mali, Washington will continue to support the Malian people in their pursuit of peace, prosperity, and democracy, according to the statement. (ANI)

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