The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on three Malian officials, including the minister of defense, alleging that they played a role in facilitating the deployment and expansion of the Russian Wagner mercenary group’s activities in the country.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced the imposition of sanctions on Mali’s Minister of Defense, Sadio Camara.
The sanctions were imposed based on allegations that Camara made multiple trips to Russia in 2021 to finalize an agreement between the Wagner Group and the Malian transition government, facilitating the deployment of the mercenary force to the West African country.
In addition to Mali’s Minister of Defense, Sadio Camara, Monday’s action by the U.S. Treasury Department also targeted Mali’s Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Alou Boi Diarra, and Malian Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff, Adama Bagayoko.
“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.
Both Russia and Mali have asserted that the presence of Russian fighters in the African nation is not linked to mercenary activities but rather aimed at providing training and support to local troops in their efforts to combat a decade-long insurgency.
In June, the United States expressed concerns regarding the destabilizing activities of the Wagner Group in Africa and accused the leader of the mercenary force of being involved in orchestrating the departure of U.N. peacekeepers from Mali.
Last month, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby informed reporters that the U.S. possesses information indicating that Mali’s transition government has paid over $200 million to the Wagner PMC since late 2021.