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US Treasury sanctions Mali’s defense minister, other officials over links to Russian mercenary group Wagner

The U.S. Treasury on Monday sanctioned several Malian defense officials for their alleged ties to Wagner, the Russian mercenary group who staged a short-lived mutiny last month.

The U.S. Treasury has imposed sanctions on Mali’s defense minister and two other officials for allegedly helping the Russian mercenary group Wagner expand their activities in the country. 

The U.S. Treasury said Monday the following individuals have been added to its SDN List: Sadio Camara, Mali’s Minister of Defense; Alou Boi Diarra, Mali’s Chief of Staff of the Air Force; and Adama Bagayoko, Mali’s Air Force Deputy Chief

The Treasury said 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. Diarra is working with Camara to form and execute the plan that ultimately brought the Wagner Group into Mali and of collaborating with the Wagner Group's head in the country, who is also under U.S. sanctions.

Bagayoko has served as an advocate of the Wagner Group to Burkina Faso's transition government in an effort to secure the force's deployment to the country, the Treasury said, adding that he has also reportedly sought to facilitate the Wagner's Group's access to gold mining in Mali.


"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," Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said. 

The sanctions freeze U.S. assets of the designated individuals and generally bar Americans from dealing with them. 

Wagner has battled in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali and other countries, and has fought the bloodiest clashes of the 16-month-old war in Ukraine. It was founded in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and started supporting pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.

The United States has previously imposed sanctions on Wagner and has repeatedly warned of what it says are Wagner's destabilizing activities as Washington has ramped up sanctions against the private army following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year.


Last month, the mercenary force, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, staged a short-lived mutiny that posed one of the most significant challenges to Russian President Vladimir Putin after more than two decades in power. 

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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