In late March, a force of Malian soldiers, backed by mercenaries belonging to the Russia-backed Wagner Group, a transnational criminal organization, set out on a five-day military counter-terrorism operation to Moura, a village in the Mopti region of central Mali. By the time the operation was done, at least 500 people lay dead. There were reports of torture, and at least 58 women and girls were subjected to sexual violence, including rape.
In late May, the United States Department of State imposed visa restrictions on the leaders of the two Malian units that participated in the operation. Colonel Moustaph Sangare commanded the 33rd Parachute Commando Regiment at the time, and Major Lassine Togola was Acting Commander of the Autonomous Special Forces Battalion. The two men are being sanctioned under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for their involvement in gross violations of human rights.
At the same time, the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, designated Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov, pursuant to Executive Order 14024 for having acted for or on behalf of the Wagner Group. Maslov is the leader and principal administrator of the Wagner Group’s paramilitary units in Mali.
Maslov was charged with leading the Mali branch by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and Valeryevich Utkin, the Wagner group’s top leader and its founder, respectively. Both have previously been sanctioned by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Canada. In his capacity as the leader and principal administrator of the Wagner Group in Mali, Maslov has worked closely with Malian government officials to execute the Group’s deployment there. He arranges meetings between Prigozhin and government officials from a number of African nations and has worked to carry out the Wagner Group’s interests in the extractive sector.
“Treasury’s sanctions against the most senior Wagner Group representative in Mali identify and disrupt a key operative supporting the group’s global activities,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson. “The Wagner Group’s presence on the African continent is a destabilizing force for any country that allows for the deployment of the group’s resources into their sovereign territory.”