UK sanctions people, businesses 'linked' to Wagner's Africa ops

AFP , Thursday 20 Jul 2023

Britain on Thursday announced sanctions against 13 individuals and businesses it said have links to the Russian mercenary group Wagner in Africa, accusing them of crimes there including killings and torture.

Fighters of Wagner private mercenary group cross a street as they get deployed near the headquarters of the Southern Military District in the city of Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on June 24, 2023.


The people and entities targeted -- which will no longer be able to deal with UK citizens, companies and banks, and have any UK assets frozen -- are allegedly involved in Wagner's activities in Mali, Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan.

They include the purported head of Wagner in Mali, Ivan Aleksandrovitch Maslov, its chief in CAR, Vitalii Viktorovitch Perfilev, and the group's operations head there Konstantin Aleksandrovitch Pikalov.

London noted Pikalov is known as the "right hand man" of Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has already been sanctioned by Britain alongside several of his key commanders who have participated in Russia's war in Ukraine.

"The Wagner Group is committing atrocities in Ukraine, as well as acting with impunity in countries like Mali, Central African Republic and Sudan," the UK's Minister for Africa Andrew Mitchell said in a statement unveiling the sanctions.

He added the new measures "expose despicable individuals who have commissioned violations of international humanitarian law, holding them to account for the severe harm they are inflicting on innocent civilians for financial gain".

Britain accuses Maslov of directing Wagner mercenaries in Mali to participate in a March 2022 massacre alongside local forces, killing at least 500 people in summary executions as well as carrying out rape and torture.

It said Perfilev and Pikalov were sanctioned for "deliberately targeting civilians" in CAR, with the latter responsible for directing torture and targeted killings.

London added the mercenary group has also provided weapons and military equipment to conflict-plagued Sudan.

Three businesses, which it alleged act as fronts for Wagner and operate in the country, have been included in the sanctions, "due to the continued risk they pose to peace and stability".

They include M-Invest, which the UK said has previously advised the Sudanese government on disinformation campaigns to discredit pro-civilian government protestors.

Its subsidiary Meroe Gold, which is accused of importing equipment to Sudan including weapons, helicopters and military trucks, was also sanctioned.

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