Potential deployment of the Wagner Group in Mali

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The US expressed its concern at the potential deployment of the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group to Mali, saying that a reported deal — costing $10 million per month — diverts money that could be used to support the Malian Armed Forces and public services to pay for the deployment of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group forces to Mali.

The US believes that Wagner’s forces — which are known for their destabilizing activities and human rights abuses — will not bring peace to Mali, but rather will destabilize the country further.

Prigozhin is sanctioned by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union in connection with his dealings with the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense and his efforts to subvert U.S. democratic processes.  The Wagner Group, which is also sanctioned by the United States, has been implicated in abuses and actions that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the Central African Republic (CAR).  For example, in CAR, Wagner elements carried out extrajudicial killings of members of predominantly Muslim Peuhl communities.

The EU sanctioned the Wagner group and 11 of its associates on December 13 for its destabilizing activities in Ukraine, Libya, CAR, and Syria.

Countries that experience Wagner group deployments within their borders soon find themselves poorer, weaker, and less secure.  The cases of Libya, CAR, Ukraine, and Syria are examples of the detrimental impact of Wagner Group deployments.

In these places Wagner forces stoked conflict and increased insecurity and instability, causing the deaths of local soldiers and civilians and undermining national sovereignty — all while depleting the national treasury and diverting essential resources that could have been used to build the capabilities of the countries’ own armed services.

The State Department issued a statement in mid-December saying: “The invitation to Wagner Group would disrupt efforts by the international community to support the fight against terrorism and could put at risk the contributions of more than 20,000 international peacekeepers and troops who serve Mali at no cost to the people or government.”

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