The United States (US) imposed on Wednesday sanctions on three individuals and five entities that are linked to Russia’s paramilitary Wagner Group, after accusing the mercenary group of laying landmines in and around Libya’s capital Tripoli.
The economic sanctions all affected individuals and businesses with close ties to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a businessman with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin and who is believed to be the financier behind the private military firm.
Wagner Group has been instrumental in assisting Russia to achieve its military goals in Ukraine, Sudan, Syria and Libya.
The sanctions announcement came just hours after U.S. Africa Command accused the Wagner Group of “complicating Libyan ceasefire efforts” by placing mines and other explosive devices in and around Tripoli.
The director of operations at AFRICOM, Bradford Gering, said the Russian-state sponsored Wagner Group is demonstrating a total disregard for the safety and security of Libyans, adding that Wagner Group’s irresponsible tactics are prolonging conflict and are responsible for the needless suffering and the deaths of innocent civilians.
US AFRICOM also remarked that Russia’s introduction of landmines, booby traps, attack aircraft, and their continued support of the 2000-person strong Wagner Group in Libya changes the nature of the current conflict and intensifies the potential risk to non-combatants.