The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on the head of the Wagner Group in Mali, accusing the Russian private army of trying to obscure its efforts to acquire military equipment for use in Ukraine, and of working through Mali and other countries.
The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement also accused Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov, whom it described as the head of Wagner paramilitary units and the group's principal administrator based in Mali, of working in close coordination with Malian government officials to execute the group's deployment in Mali.
"Treasury's sanctions against the most senior Wagner Group representative in Mali identify and disrupt a key operative supporting the group's global activities," Brian Nelson, the Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
The move comes after State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller on Monday said there were indications that Wagner has been attempting to purchase military systems from foreign suppliers and route those weapons through Mali.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia's Foreign Ministry, on Wednesday dismissed the U.S. allegations as a "hoax" in a news conference, and she urged Washington to examine the effect of its own military exports.