By Firdevs Bulut Kartal
TORONTO (AA) - The US Treasury Department announced sanctions Thursday against the leader of Russia's paramilitary Wagner Group in Mali.
The sanctions target Ivan Alexandrovic Maslov and refer to undisclosed signs that his staff were working to buy mines, drones and various weapons systems from foreign suppliers to deliver them to Russian forces in Ukraine, the department said in a statement.
There were indications that the Kremlin was trying to use the West African nation as a way-station for arms shipments to Russian forces in the Eastern European country.
"The Wagner Group may be attempting to obscure its efforts to acquire military equipment for use in Ukraine, including by working through Mali and other countries where it has a foothold. The United States opposes efforts by any country to assist Russia through the Wagner Group," the statement said.
The sanctions identify and disrupt a key operative from supporting Wagner Group's global activities, according to Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson, who was quoted in the statement.
“The Wagner Group’s presence on the African continent is a destabilizing force for any country that allows for the deployment of the group’s resources into their sovereign territory,” it added.
The Wagner Group has meddled in and destabilized countries in Africa, committing widespread human rights abuses and appropriating natural resources.
The group is also involved in Kremlin-supported combat operations around the world and is a key supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.