US sanctions on Malian officials over suspected Wagner ties

Treasury says Malian Defence Minister visited Russia in 2021 to solidify agreement with Russian mercenary group

Malians demonstrate in support of Russia on the 60th anniversary of Mali's independence in September 2020. AP
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The US on Monday imposed sanctions on three Malian officials, including the Minister of Defence, over accusations that they organised and increased the Russian Wagner Group's activities in the country.

The US Treasury Department said it imposed sanctions on Mali's Defence Minister Sadio Camara after he visited Russia in 2021 to solidify an agreement between Wagner and the Malian transitional government to bring the mercenary force to the West African country.

Russia and Mali have said Russian fighters in the African nation are not mercenaries but trainers helping local troops to fight a decade-long insurgency by militants.

In June, the US said it was concerned about Wagner's destabilising activities in Africa and accused the leader of the mercenary force of helping to engineer the departure of UN peacekeepers from Mali.

“The United States will continue to take action against those who facilitate the Wagner Group’s destabilising activities, which pose threats to peace and security in Mali and the region,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

In May, Washington also said the Wagner Group might be working through Mali and other countries to hide its efforts to acquire military equipment for use in Ukraine.

Updated: July 24, 2023, 7:51 PM