Wagner Group attempts to smuggle weapons to Ukraine via Mali: US

  • The Wagner Group is trying to smuggle weapons into Ukraine from Mali, the US State Department has said.
  • Officials said the deals have yet to be finalized. Wagner has long operated in Africa.
  • Its leader accused Russia of withholding ammunition from its troops, increasing their losses.

The Russian mercenary group Wagner has turned to Africa to try to obtain much-needed weapons for its fighting in Ukraine, the US State Department said on Monday.

This came after Wagner accessed the traditional Russian army to hold back the group’s resources, which led the fighting in the key battlefield town of Bakhmut.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters that there were “indications that Wagner attempted to purchase military systems from foreign suppliers and funnel those weapons through Mali in as a third party,” Reuters reported.

Miller said the group was willing to use false papers to make such transactions, according to Reuters.

He said: “We have not yet seen any indications that these acquisitions have been finalized or executed, but we are monitoring the situation closely.”

Wagner sent thousands of mercenaries and prisoners to fight in Ukraine, especially in the eastern city of Bakhmut, the longest and bloodiest battle of the Russian invasion.

In recent years, the group has also been active in several countries in Africa, where it has been accused of war crimes.

Independent human rights experts working with the United Nations have called for an investigation into the group’s activities in Mali, which could involve possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Western countries have expressed concern over the group’s actions in Mali since 2021, Reuters noted.

Wagner suffered heavy casualties in Ukraine, and Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin blamed the Russian military for not giving the group enough ammunition.

Although they are fighting on the same side and Russia often relies on Wagner for progress, the two groups are part of an escalating public conflict.

Prigozhin said in March that the Russian government had cut off ammunition to his group in an “attempt to destroy it”. In April he threatened to withdraw from Bakhmut if he got no more ammunition.

The Russian military itself suffered from shortages of weapons and equipment throughout its invasion of Ukraine, with captured and escaped Russian fighters claiming they had received insufficient, faulty and several-year-old equipment. decades.

Western sanctions have limited Russia’s ability to obtain more weapons, as well as parts and materials to manufacture more. Prigozhin is also under Western sanctions.

In response, Russia has turned to other pariah states like Iran for more weapons to use in Ukraine.

But some Western parts and technology still made it to Russia, sometimes via sales that went through other countries.


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