U.S. alarmed by potential deployment of Russia-backed group in Mali -State Department

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WASHINGTON – The United States is “alarmed” by a possible deployment of Russia-backed Wagner Group forces in Mali, saying the private military contractor’s operations would destabilize the region, a State Department spokesperson said Wednesday.

The Wagner Group would be paid $10 million per month for the potential deployment, money that could be used to support the Malian Armed Forces and public services, the statement said.

“Wagner forces — which are known for their destabilizing activities and human rights abuses — will not bring peace to Mali, but rather will destabilize the country further,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Wagner Group neither represented the Russian state nor was paid by it. He has also said private military contractors have the right to work and pursue their interests anywhere in the world as long as they do not break Russian law.

The European Union imposed sanctions https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/eu-hits-russian-mercenary-group-wagner-with-sanctions-2021-12-13 on the Wagner Group, as well as eight associated individuals and three energy companies in Syria, on Monday, accusing the group of clandestine operations on the Kremlin’s behalf.

The United States has also sanctioned the contractor for actions in the Central African Republic (CAR), where “Wagner elements carried out extrajudicial killings of members of predominantly Muslim Peuhl communities,” Price said.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Katharine Jackson; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Philippa Fletcher)

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