The Russian mercenary Wagner Group has operated in Mali, CAR and Sudan for several years, aggressively pursuing Russian foreign policy interests in the region and providing military support to counter-terrorism operations which have seen hundreds of civilians killed. The UK has already sanctioned the Wagner Group, its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, and several of his key commanders who have participated in Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
The head of the Wagner Group in Mali, Ivan Aleksandrovitch Maslov, is one of those targeted today. Wagner mercenaries, alongside Malian forces, massacred at least 500 people in Moura in March 2022, including summary executions as well as rape and torture.
The head of the Wagner Group in CAR, Vitalii Viktorovitch Perfilev, and the Wagner Group’s head of operations in the country, Konstantin Aleksandrovitch Pikalov, are sanctioned for deliberately targeting civilians.
Pikalov, known as the Wagner Group founder and CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin’s ‘right hand man’, is the operational head of Wagner in CAR. Pikalov is responsible for the Wagner Group’s torture and targeted killings of civilians.
Wagner Group has also provided weapons and military equipment to Sudan. Three businesses, which act as fronts for the Wagner Group and operate in the country, have been included in the new measures, due to the continued risk they pose to peace and stability. These include M-Invest, and its subsidiary Meroe Gold. These build on recent sanctions against companies funding the conflict.
“The Wagner Group is committing atrocities in Ukraine, as well as acting with impunity in countries like Mali, Central African Republic and Sudan. Wherever Wagner operates, it has a catastrophic effect on communities, worsens existing conflicts and damages the reputations of countries that host them,” – Andrew Mitchell, UK Minister for Development and Africa.
These sanctions 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.
The UK announced a package of sanctions linked to Sudan last week, targeting 6 companies providing funding and military equipment to the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Through diplomatic engagement and aid programmes, the UK continues to support local, national and international efforts to promote long-term prosperity and stability in Mali, CAR and Sudan.
The UK remains deeply concerned by the destabilising role Wagner plays in this region. Wagner mercenaries operating in Africa have long been reported as being responsible for multiple breaches of international humanitarian law and abuses of human rights, including numerous reports of indiscriminate killings of unarmed civilians. The group’s presence in Africa is self-serving as demonstrated by their grip on the security and economic environments as well as their continued exploitation of natural resources.
The individuals and businesses sanctioned today are:
- Ivan Aleksandrovitch Maslov, the head of the Wagner Group’s operations in Mali, who oversaw the group’s involvement in the Moura Massacre and has been involved in the commission of violations of international humanitarian law, in particular, the deliberate targeting of civilians
Central African Republic
- Alexander Alexandrovich Ivanov, the Wagner Group’s unofficial spokesperson in CAR, for his association with the Group which has committed violations of international humanitarian law, deliberately targeting civilians
- Aleksandr Grigorievitch Maloletko, a military instructor for the Wagner Group and a close associate of Yevgeny Prigozhin, for his association with the Group which has committed violations of international humanitarian law
- Dimitri Sytii, an individual associated with the Wagner Group in CAR which has violated international humanitarian law, deliberately targeting civilians
- Konstantin Aleksandrovitch Pikalov, a close advisor of Yevgeny Prigozhin, for his involvement in the commission of violations of international humanitarian law in CAR, in particular the deliberate targeting of civilians
- mining company Lobaye Invest Sarlu for involvement in activities which threaten the peace, stability and security of the CAR, including through acts that undermine efforts to resolve armed conflicts, such as funding the training of CAR army recruits by Russian mercenaries
- Sewa Security Services, a CAR-based security company (and subsidiary of Lobaye Invest Sarlu) for its involvement in activities which undermine or threaten the peace, stability and security of the CAR, including by providing support for and/or promoting the actions of the Wagner Group in CAR
- Vitalii Viktorovitch Perfilev, the head of Wagner Group operations in CAR, for violating international humanitarian law by deliberately targeting civilians
- Andrei Sergeevich Mandel, Director General of M-Invest which in itself is responsible for action which threatens the peace, stability and security of Sudan
- M-Invest, a company serving as a front for the Wagner Group, for threatening the peace and security of Sudan. M-invest has previously advised the Sudanese government on disinformation campaigns to discredit pro-civilian government protestors
- Meroe Gold, a mining subsidiary of M-Invest, for threatening the peace, stability and security of Sudan. Meroe Gold has imported equipment to Sudan including weapons, helicopters and military trucks
- Mikhail Potepkin, Regional Director of M-Invest and Director of Meroe Gold, for threatening the peace and stability in Sudan. Potepkin is associated with the Wagner Group. He worked to ensure planes hired by Meroe Gold could continue operate domestically and internationally whilst being undetected by commercial aviation radars
- Al-Solag Mining, for threatening the peace, stability and security of Sudan by its association with Meroe Gold (and for its attempts to avoid existing Western sanctions and Sudanese regulations).
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