The US has imposed sanctions on Dmitry Utkin, the leader of Russia’s shadowy Wagner Group forces in Mali. The sanctions were issued under the Global Magnitsky or Sergei Magnitsky Act and include a visa ban and the blocking of any assets located in the US.
The Wagner Group is a paramilitary organization allegedly linked to Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin and previously known for military operations in Syria and Ukraine. The US Treasury said Utkin “has sent additional Wagner personnel to Mali to join forces, dramatically increasing Russia’s military presence in the country and undermining West African’s efforts to resolve the conflict in Mali”. The sanctions come as Russia has stepped up its activities in the African continent in recent years, with many analysts fearing this could lead to increased Russian influence in the region.