The US Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on Ivan Maslov, the head of Russian Private Military Company Wagner in Mali, accusing him of using the African country to “acquire military equipment for use in Ukraine.”
Wagner has been present in Mali since 2021, ostensibly to aid the country in combating jihadists. Mali's military junta claims that Wagner operatives are stationed in the country as trainers, providing support to local forces using Russian military equipment. However, according to Washington, Wagner’s operations in Africa are now been used to aid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Wagner and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, are already sanctioned by multiple countries around the world, mainly linked to the PMC’s operations as part of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The Wagner Group may be seeking to transit material acquisitions for Ukraine through Mali, and is willing to use false paperwork for these transactions,’ the Treasury Department statement revealed.
“There are indications that the Wagner Group has been attempting to purchase military systems from foreign suppliers and to route these weapons through Mali as a third party. For example, the Wagner Group employees may have been attempting to work through Mali to acquire warfighting equipment such as mines, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, radar, and counterbattery systems for use in Ukraine.”
The report describes Maslov as a “Wagner Group senior security official,” who has worked in close coordination with Malian government officials to execute the Wagner Group’s deployment in Mali.
Alongside these accusations, Wagner has also been accused of numerous other crimes in Mali, such as war crimes, including mass executions, and sexual assault.
Earlier in May, a UN report revealed that Wagner mercenaries took part in the Moura massacre, which saw Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) execute over 500 people, including women and children, between March 27 and 31, 2022.
The massacre involved helicopters attacking a crowded market and subsequent military control of the village, where detainees were separated, jihadists were executed, and women and girls were subjected to sexual violence. The report also highlighted cases of torture, and obstruction of justice by Malian authorities.