On Saturday February 25, the European Union decided to sanction the Russian paramilitary group Wagner because of its “human rights violations” in Africa. These measures are aimed in particular at the head of the Wagner group in Mali and several of his senior officials in the Central African Republic.
Eleven people – nine in Africa and two in Ukraine – as well as seven entities linked to the group have been added to the European list, imposing asset freezes and travel bans.
The Wagner group, which actively fights with the Russian army in Ukraine, had already been sanctioned in 2021 by the EU.
These new measures were decided “in view of the international dimension and the seriousness of the group’s activities, as well as its destabilizing impact on the countries where it is active”, wrote the European Council in a press release.
“The activities of the Wagner group are a threat to the populations of the countries where they operate and to the European Union”, declared the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrel.
Ores and diamonds
Several people placed under EU sanctions in the Central African Republic are prominent members of Wagner, including President Faustin Archange Touadera’s “security adviser” and the group’s spokesman in the country.
Wagner established himself in the Central African Republic at the invitation of President Touadera to suppress a rebellion and his increasingly imposing presence prompted the departure of French soldiers from this country at the end of last year. Gold and diamond companies linked to the group in the Central African Republic and Sudan are also targeted by European sanctions.
Wagner, a paramilitary organization founded in 2014, is considered by the United States to be an international terrorist organization. The group has established itself as a major player in the conflict in Ukraine and its mercenaries have also been seen in Syria or Libya.
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