United States: Russian group Wagner sends weapons to Ukraine via Mali

WASHINGTON: The United States suspects a Russian mercenary company Wagner Group is trying to ship weapons to fighters in Ukraine via the West African nation of Mali, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
“We believe Wagner is trying to obscure his efforts to acquire military hardware for use in Ukraine, including working with third countries where he has a foothold,” Miller said during a Monday briefing.
“We have been informed that Wagner is seeking to transit material acquisitions to aid Russia’s war through Mali, and is prepared to use false papers for these transactions,” Miller said.
The U.S. believes the Wagner Group attempted to purchase military systems from “foreign suppliers and route those weapons through Mali,” Miller said, adding that there is no evidence that these weapons acquisitions have been finalized or executed.
Mali’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Senior US officials have frequently condemned the Wagner Group’s activities in Africa – particularly in Mali and the Central African Republic – to further destabilize countries embroiled in conflict.
Secretary of State Antoine Blinkenwho sanctioned the group and its boss Yevgeny Prigozhinsaid the mercenary group exploits African resources and is “a scourge on the people of the countries that have chosen to work with them”.
Miller’s comments on Mali come less than two weeks after the US ambassador to South Africa sparked a diplomatic spat when he said a Russian freighter had collected armaments after docking at the end of the last year at Simon’s Town Naval Base in Cape Town.
The allegations, which have rattled investors fearing the United States will punish South Africa, prompted the government in Pretoria to summon Ambassador Reuben Brigety for a meeting, with the South Africans later saying in a statement that he “admitted to crossing the line and apologised”. without reservation.”
Brigety said on May 11 that he would “bet my life” on the claim that weapons were loaded onto a Russian freighter, the Lady R, in December. Asked about the allegations, another State Department spokesman, Vedant Patel, said on May 15 that the United States had “serious concerns” about the docking of the sanctioned vessel in Cape Town.
Miller on Monday reiterated the department’s concerns about the incident in South Africa, but declined to say whether the Wagner Group is suspected of involvement or if the issues in the two countries are linked.


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