UK sanctions Wagner Group leaders operating in Africa

The UK government on Thursday imposed targeted sanctions on 13 individuals and businesses linked to the actions of the Russian Wagner paramilitary group in Africa, according to a government statement.

The sanctions specifically focus on their “involvement in serious human rights violations, including executions and torture in Mali and the Central African Republic, as well as threats to peace and security in Sudan,” it said.

Among those sanctioned are three top officials of the Wagner Group operating in Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR), including a key associate of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner paramilitary group.

Additionally, the UK has targeted five more individuals and businesses involved in activities that pose a threat to peace and stability in Sudan.

“The Wagner Group is committing atrocities in Ukraine, as well as acting with impunity in countries like Mali, Central African Republic and Sudan. Wherever Wagner operates, it has a catastrophic effect on communities, worsens existing conflicts and damages the reputations of countries that host them,” said Andrew Mitchell, the minister for development and Africa.

“These sanctions expose despicable individuals who have commissioned violations of international humanitarian law, holding them to account for the severe harm they are inflicting on innocent civilians for financial gain,” he added.

Last week, the UK imposed sanctions on six companies providing funding and military equipment to the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

On June 24, Prigozhin accused the Russian Defense Ministry of attacking the group’s fighters, declared a “March of Justice” and set off toward Moscow.

The Russian Federal Security Service designated the group’s action “an armed rebellion” and opened a criminal case against Prigozhin, while Russian President Vladimir Putin called the private military company’s uprising an act of “treason.”

Prigozhin later turned back “to avoid bloodshed” and has since moved to Belarus under a deal brokered by President Alexander Lukashenko.

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