US accuses Wagner Group of supplying missiles to Sudan’s RSF

Washington warns that the Russian group of mercenaries is prolonging the conflict and causing “further chaos” in Sudan.

Washington, D.C. – The United States has accused Russia’s Wagner Group of supplying surface-to-air missiles to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), one of the parties to the ongoing conflict in Sudan that has displaced nearly 1.3 million people.

Thursday’s accusation against the mercenary group came as the US Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on Wagner’s leader in Mali, accusing him of trying to obtain weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Sudan’s surface-to-air missiles have contributed to “a protracted armed conflict that is only leading to further chaos in the region,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

The RSF and the Sudanese army – led by two rival generals – have been locked in a battle for control of the state and its resources since mid-April, in which hundreds of people have been killed.

Washington, meanwhile, has helped secure several ceasefire agreements since the violence erupted. On Monday, the warring parties agreed a week-long ceasefire, but as with previous ceasefire agreements, residents have reported continued clashes.

The US says its primary goal in Sudan is to reduce violence before working to end the fighting and return the country to civilian rule. Human rights groups warn of a humanitarian catastrophe if the conflict continues.

Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern over the prospect of Wagner’s involvement in Sudan, saying the group “just brings more death and destruction.”

“It is very important that we do not see his further involvement in Sudan. And I know that a number of countries are very concerned about that prospect,” he said.

The US is investigating Wagner’s activities in Mali

On Thursday, the Treasury also said Russian President Vladimir Putin “has resorted to the Wagner Group to continue his favorite war” in Ukraine, which has been invaded on a massive scale since February 2022.

As part of the announcement, the US imposed sanctions on Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov, the head of Wagner in Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa.

“The Wagner Group may be trying to cover up its efforts to acquire military equipment for use in Ukraine, including by working through Mali and other countries where it has a foothold,” the Treasury said. “The United States opposes attempts by any country to aid Russia through the Wagner Group.”

In early 2023, the US labeled Wagner a “transnational criminal organization” and imposed sanctions on its top leaders.

The State Department also earlier this week accused Wagner of smuggling “material assets to support Russia’s war” into Ukraine through Mali using false papers.

“In fact, there are indications that Wagner has tried to buy military systems from foreign suppliers and send these weapons through Mali as a third party,” spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters Monday.

“We have not seen any indication to date that these acquisitions have been completed or executed, but we are closely monitoring the situation.”