The United States announced Monday economic sanctions targeting three Malian soldiers, including the current Minister of Defense, for having "facilitated the deployment and expansion" of the activities in Mali of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner.
These sanctions target three officers of the Malian army: Colonel Sadio Camara, Minister of Defense, who also holds French nationality, as well as Colonel Alou Boi Diarra and Lieutenant-Colonel Adama Bagayoko, both officials in the Air Force.
Washington reports "evidence showing that these Malian officials contributed to the malicious activities of the Wagner group in Mali", in a statement from the US Treasury.
"Today's action exposes key Malian officials who have helped facilitate the Wagner Group's entrenchment in Mali over the past two years," Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson was quoted in the statement as saying.
"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 benefit the Wagner Group's operations in Ukraine," he added .
The assets in the United States of these three officials are frozen and they are prohibited from carrying out transactions with American persons or companies.
According to Washington, since the arrival of the Wagner group in Mali in December 2021, the number of civilian victims in this country has increased by 278%, in particular due to operations carried out by the Malian armed forces alongside members of the Wagner group.
Economic sanctions were taken by the United States against this group in June 2017, then reiterated last January.
The future of Wagner, who fought in Ukraine and whose presence has been attested in several African countries but also in Syria, is in question after the 24-hour rebellion led in June in Russia by his boss, Yevgeny Prigojine .
Moscow said its future in Africa would depend "on the countries involved".