By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) - The US said Wednesday that it is "alarmed by" the potential deployment of Russia-backed paramilitary group Wagner in Mali.
In a statement, the State Department cited a reported deal, which it said, "diverts money that could be used to support the Malian armed forces and public services to pay for the deployment of Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s Wagner Group forces to Mali."
"Wagner 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," spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned last month it would be "unfortunate" if the Wagner Group became active in Mali, saying the African country "remains a linchpin for future stability in the Sahel."
On Monday, the EU sanctioned the Wagner group and 11 of its associates for its "destabilizing activities" in Ukraine, Libya, Central African Republic 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," said Price.
The US urged the Malian transitional government not to divert scarce budgetary resources from the Malian army's fight against terrorism.
"The wealth of the country — including mining concessions — should benefit the Malian people, and not be mortgaged to unaccountable foreign forces with a record of abusing local populations and undermining host nations’ control over their own territory," added Price.