Wagner’s businesses in Africa isolate and create dependent economies, not funding for private armies.
The US Treasury Department on Tuesday sanctioned gold and diamond mining concerns connected to the Wagner group in Mali and the Central African Republic after Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mercenary group’s founder, attempted to stage a mutiny in Russia last weekend.
The gold and diamond mining enterprises, as well as a UAE-based distributor and a Russian company that the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) says is involved in the scheme, serve to enrich some members of Wagner and their collaborators in Russia and the African countries where they have a foothold. However, the amount the group earns from its illicit mining activities is negligible compared to its significant funding from the Russian government.
For several years part of Wagner’s appeal was that it furthered Russia’s foreign policy goals with a modicum of plausible deniability. Wagner’s connection to the Russian government has been an open secret since the mercenary group started in 2014 and brought Crimea and the Donbas under Russian control, but it wasn’t until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that that connection was made explicit.
Part of Wagner’s appeal has been its effectiveness compared to its relatively small price tag for the Russian government. Putin has admitted that the Russian government funds Wagner, to the tune of $1 billion over the year completed May 2023, while Prigozhin made just over $900 million on top of that.
For the rest of this article: https://www.vox.com/world-politics/2023/7/2/23781794/wagner-group-africa-russia-uae-putin