Washington (EFE).- The White House reports that the United States will impose new sanctions against the group of Russian mercenaries Wagner for their involvement in the war in Ukraine and will designate it as a “transnational criminal organization.”
White House Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at a news conference that the Treasury Department will announce that designation.
In addition, next week the US will impose additional sanctions against Wagner and those who support this group on “several continents.”
Kirby explained that the designation of Wagner as a transnational criminal organization opens up a series of possibilities to continue sanctioning this group and its allies around the world.
Putin and Wagner
The spokesman indicated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly relying on Wagner in Ukraine.
Still, “we are seeing signs” of growing tensions between Wagner and the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Wagner is becoming a rival center of power against the Russian armed forces and other Russian ministries,” said Kirby, who stressed that the US estimates that the group would have some 50,000 troops deployed in Ukraine, of which 10,000 they would be contractors and 40,000 ex-convicts.
He explained that Wagner recruits guerrillas in Russian prisons.
On the other hand, Kirby claimed that North Korea is assisting Russia in its military activities against Ukraine, supplying weapons and ammunition through organizations such as Wagner.
For this reason, the US is going to share information about the “violations” committed by Pyongyang to the sanctions committee on North Korea of the UN Security Council.
Wagner would be making illicit profits in Africa
The US State Department denounced that the Wagner Group, an organization of mercenaries of Russian origin considered a private military company, is obtaining “illicit profits” in Africa that could be used to finance the war in Ukraine.
“(Russian President) Vladimir Putin and the Wagner Group, backed by the Kremlin and controlled by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, are actively undermining the independence of our African partners for the sake of illicit gains,” a department spokesman told EFE.
Earlier this week, the US daily Politico reported that the United States believes the Wagner Group is expanding its mining projects in Africa to raise millions to shore up its military operations in Ukraine.
Citing a diplomatic cable as a source, the news outlet notes that Wagner has significantly expanded his work in the Central African Republic (CAR), with proceeds of almost $1 billion that could be used to purchase new weapons and fighters.
Wagner settled in RCA in 2018, creating a cultural center and closing several deals to help secure mining sites, including the Ndassima gold mine located near the central country town of Bambari.
Since then, Wagner has turned what was once a small mine into a huge complex encompassing eight production zones in various stages of development, according to the cable.
“Countries that experience deployments of the Wagner group within their borders are poorer, weaker and less secure,” said the State Department spokesman today, who assured that the US remains “fully committed” to partnering with the Central African people.
“We will continue to work closely with the Government of the Central African Republic to achieve our shared goals of a peaceful and prosperous Central African Republic that protects human rights and access to justice,” he added.
US on German tanks
The United States said it is not trying to force Germany to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, noting that this is a sovereign decision by Berlin.
«These are decisions that each nation must adopt for itself, they are sovereign decisions. We are not twisting anyone’s arm and no one is twisting it for us,” White House Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at a press conference.
He explained that the US is working with its allies in what he defined as a coalition of what each has to “provide Ukraine with the defense and security assistance it needs.”
Despite not having agreed to provide Leopard tanks, Kirby stressed that Germany has provided “a lot of equipment, including anti-aircraft defenses and some armored vehicles” to Ukraine.
The Contact Group for Ukraine failed to make a decision on the shipment of German-made Leopard2 tanks, which kyiv claims, at its meeting this Friday at the US base in Ramstein (Germany).
After the meeting with fifty allies, the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, admitted that no agreement had been reached on the Leopards, but reaffirmed the determination of the Western allies to support Ukraine, mainly with air defense systems.
Berlin had asked the US to send American Abrams tanks to Ukraine, in exchange for providing German Leopard main battle tanks.
New military aid package
The Pentagon on Thursday announced a new $2.5 billion military aid package for Ukraine, complete with armored cars and air defenses, but without the Abrams.
For the Pentagon, it makes no sense for the US to now send Abrams tanks to Ukraine. The US Department of Defense Undersecretary of Press, Sabrina Singh, clarified on Thursday at a press conference that it is a maintenance issue.
The Abrams “is a tank that requires jet fuel, while the Leopard and Challenger (these last British tanks that are going to be sent to Ukraine) have a different engine, they need diesel, they are a little easier to maintain,” he explained. Singh.