The UK on Thursday imposed sanctions on 13 individuals and companies accused of involvement in abuses by the Russian paramilitary group Wagner in Mali, the Central African Republic, and Sudan.
The charges include “executions and acts of torture in Mali and the Central African Republic, as well as threats to peace and security in Sudan”, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
The people targeted by these measures, which include the freezing of assets in the UK and a ban on visiting the country, include Russians presented as Wagner’s managers in Mali, Ivan Maslov, and in the Central African Republic, Vitali Perfilev and Konstantin Pikalov.
The latter is said to be the right-hand man of Wagner chief Evgeny Prigozhin, who has already been sanctioned by London.
“The Wagner group commits atrocities in Ukraine and acts with impunity in countries such as Mali, the Central African Republic, and Sudan”, denounced the Secretary of State for Africa, Andrew Mitchell, quoted in the press release.
“Wherever Wagner operates, it has a catastrophic effect on communities, exacerbates existing conflicts, and damages the reputation of host countries”, he added.
London has also sanctioned mining and security companies accused of funding Wagner or participating in its operations.
The future of Wagner, which was fighting in Ukraine and has been documented in several African countries as well as Syria, is in question following the 24-hour rebellion led in Russia in June by its boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Moscow said its future in Africa would depend “on the countries concerned”.
London says it “remains gravely concerned about Wagner’s destabilising role in the region”. In Mali, the Foreign Office cites “the massacre of at least 500 people in Moura in March 2022, including summary executions, rape, and torture”.
In the Central African Republic, Wagner is accused of “deliberately targeting civilians”, while in Sudan, “he supplied weapons and military equipment”, according to the same source.