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WEAPON WOES

US imposes sanctions on head of Wagner Group in Mali

Logos of the PMC Wagner Center pictured at the building headquarters of the Wagner Group in St Petersburg, Russia, 3 February 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / ANATOLY MALTSEV)

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on the head of the Wagner Group in Mali, accusing the Russian private army of trying to obscure its efforts to acquire military equipment for use in Ukraine, and of working through Mali and other countries.

The US Treasury Department in a statement also accused Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov, who it described as the head of Wagner paramilitary units and its principal administrator based in Mali, of working in close coordination with Malian government officials to execute the group’s deployment in Mali.

“Treasury’s sanctions against the most senior Wagner Group representative in Mali identify and disrupt a key operative supporting the group’s global activities,” the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement.

The move comes after State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller on Monday said that there were indications that Wagner has been attempting to purchase military systems from foreign suppliers and route those weapons through Mali.

Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, on Wednesday dismissed the US allegations as a “hoax” in a news conference and urged Washington to examine the effect of its own military exports.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis.)

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