Washington announced on Thursday a series of economic sanctions targeting the head of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner in Mali, Ivan Maslov, whom it accuses of seeking to obtain military equipment there for use in the Ukrainian conflict.
These sanctions "against the most important person in charge of the Wagner group in Mali aim to put an end to essential operations of support for the world activity of the group", justified the under-secretary of the Treasury in charge of terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, quoted in the release.
These sanctions involve the seizure of all of Ivan Maslov's assets in the United States, financial and real estate, as well as companies having a direct capital link with Mr. Maslov, and prohibit American companies or companies present on American territory from carry out the slightest transaction with Mr. Maslov or companies that he controls.
"The presence of the Wagner group on the African continent is a destabilizing force for any country that allows its deployment on its territory," Nelson added.
This is not the first time that sanctions have targeted the Wagner group or some of its members for its actions in Mali. The European Union had thus announced at the end of February a series of sanctions targeting a dozen people, including Mr. Maslov, because of the "violations of human rights" attributed to the paramilitary company on the spot.
Wagner, a paramilitary group founded in 2014, is considered by the United States to be an international terrorist organization. The United States, which has been trying for several years to thwart Russian influence in Africa, accuses the Wagner group of "committing human rights violations and extorting natural resources in Africa".
The group has established itself as a major player in the conflict in Ukraine, particularly in the battle around the city of Bakhmout, and its mercenaries have also been seen in Syria or Libya and more recently in the Central African Republic and, therefore, in Mali.