The British government imposed sanctions on 13 people and organizations in the Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, and Sudan with ties to the Wagner paramilitary group in Russia, Al Jazeera reports.
This includes one it referred to be the “right-hand man” of the group’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin.
According to the British government, Wagner officials have been put on its list and are being held accountable for torture, killings in Mali and the CAR, and threats to the stability of Sudan.
The sanctions come only weeks after Mr Prigozhin’s failed rebellion in Russia, which prompted concerns about Wagner’s future military and economic operations in African nations such as CAR.
“Wherever Wagner operates, it has a catastrophic effect on communities, worsens existing conflicts and damages the reputations of countries that host them,” the Minister for Development and Africa for the UK, Andrew Mitchell, said.
Others who received sanctions were Ivan Maslov, the leader of the Wagner Group in Mali, Vitaly Perfilov in the CAR, and Alexander Maloletko, whom they described as Mr Prigozhin’s close ally.
The government claimed to have sanctioned three companies in Sudan, including Meroe Gold, for serving as fronts for the Wagner Group and undermining peace and security. Meroe Gold, according to the report, has imported military trucks, helicopters, and weaponry.
Wagner mercenaries are active in several African countries, including Central African Republic and Mali.
In the Central African Republic, for example, 1,890 so-called “Russian instructors” are supporting government troops in the ongoing civil war, according to the Russian ambassador. The latest report from The Sentry reveals that “systematic efforts by Russia to undercut democracy in Africa have inhibited democratic development in two dozen African countries.”
Voice of America reports that the United States has accused companies in the United Arab Emirates, the Central African Republic and Russia of engaging in illicit gold deals to help fund the Wagner Group. The US Treasury Department said in a statement it has sanctioned four companies linked to Wagner and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, that it alleged were used to help pay the paramilitary’s forces fighting in Ukraine and undertaking operations to support Russian interests in Africa.
Wagner has been accused of atrocities, including mass murder and rape, across Africa and alongside Russian forces in Ukraine.
In Libya, up to 1,200 Wagner mercenaries are believed to be fighting on the side of rebel leader Khalifa Hifter. In Mali, the pro-Russian, anti-Western military junta has also brought hundreds of Wagner fighters into the country. There, they have been accused of committing serious human rights violations.
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