Fri 26 May 2023:
The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of Sudan received missiles from the private Russian military contractor Wagner Group, according to the US Treasury Department, “contributing to a prolonged armed conflict.”
This came on Thursday when the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Wagner’s head in Mali, Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov, blaming him for attempting to acquire weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Most recently in Sudan, the Wagner Group has been supplying Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces with surface-to-air missiles to fight against Sudan’s army, contributing to a prolonged armed conflict that only results in further chaos in the region,” a Treasury statement said.
Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Sudan’s legitimate authorities have the right to use the services of the Wagner group.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced “deep concern” over the military company’s activities in the war-torn country.
“It’s in so many different countries, and in Africa, an element that, when it’s engaged, simply brings more death and destruction with it,” Blinken said during a joint press conference with his Kenyan counterpart Alfred Mutua.
Russia has been seeking to expand its influence in Africa as it seeks new allies in the war with Ukraine.
Its involvement in West Africa predates the war, but evidence suggests Wagner’s operations there have not been any more successful than those of other forces, such as former colonial power France.
France withdrew its troops from Mali in February last year following disagreements with the military government which seized power in 2020.
Earlier this week, the International Organization for Migration said that more than one million people have been internally displaced since the outbreak of clashes between the Sudanese army and the RSF last month.
One of the main requirements of Sudan’s transition deal with political groups, the RSF’s integration into the armed forces, had been causing friction between the two sides in recent months.
Since the military overthrew Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional administration and proclaimed a state of emergency in fall 2021—a move denounced by political forces as a “coup”—Sudan has been without a functioning government.
Elections were supposed to mark the conclusion of the transitional era, which began in August 2019 with the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir.
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT PRESS AND NEWS AGENCIES
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