The United States (US) has accused the Russia-based Wagner group of providing surface-to-air missiles to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan’s ongoing conflict, reported Aljazeera.
Fighting between the Sudanese army, led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary forces, led by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, broke out last month and has worsened a humanitarian crisis. The fighting has killed hundreds of people and forced more than 1.3 million people to flee to neighboring countries for shelter.
Notably, Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, has grown ties with Russia. Back in 2022, western diplomats in Khartoum had said that Wagner was involved in illicit gold mining in Sudan. last month, the Wagner group said that it was no longer operating in Sudan.
The surface-to-air missiles in Sudan have contributed to “a prolonged armed conflict that only results in further chaos in the region”, the US Treasury said in a statement.
A number of cease-fire agreements have been brokered, yet none managed to completely cease the fighting. However, on Monday, the warring sides agreed to a weeklong ceasefire, but as with previous ceasefire agreements, residents have reported continued clashes.
The US said that its main aim is to reduce the ongoing violence in Sudan before trying to pave the way toward a permanent ceasefire and returning the country to civilian rule. Rights groups have cautioned of a humanitarian catastrophe if the conflict continues.
On Thursday, the Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov, the head of the Wagner group in Mali, accusing him of trying to obtain weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine. He is also accused of working in close coordination with Malian government officials to execute the group’s deployment in Mali.
The move comes after State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller earlier this week said that there were indications that Wagner has been attempting to purchase military systems from foreign suppliers and route those weapons through Mali.