The United States State Department has claimed that Russian private mercenary force Wagner is attempting to acquire military equipment internationally and transit it through Mali for use in the war in Ukraine.
Speaking to the press, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller stated that Wagner is willing to use false paperwork to facilitate these transactions.
“We have not seen, as of yet, any indications that these acquisitions have been finalised or executed, but we are monitoring the situation closely,” he said.
Miller also noted that the US has imposed sanctions on numerous individuals and entities believed to have supported Wagner's military operations, and said that the US Government intends to disclose additional information regarding the recently attempted equipment shipment through Mali in the near future.
Wagner has been present in Mali since 2021, ostensibly to aid the country in combating jihadists. Mali's military junta claims that Wagner operatives are stationed in the country as trainers, providing support to local forces using Russian military equipment. However, their presence has been highly controversial. The US has accused Wagner of engaging in war crimes, including mass executions, sexual assault and the abduction of children. Additionally, the US Treasury Department has classified Wagner as a transnational criminal organisation.
Earlier in May, a UN report revealed that Wagner mercenaries took part in the Moura massacre, which saw Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) execute over 500 people, including women and children, between March 27 and 31, 2022. The massacre involved helicopters attacking a crowded market and subsequent military control of the village, where detainees were separated, jihadists were executed, and women and girls were subjected to sexual violence. The report also highlighted cases of torture and obstruction of justice by Malian authorities.