US Postpones Sanctions on Wagner Private Military Company Amid Moscow Standoff-WSJ

Moscow, Russia – The United States has decided to delay imposing additional economic sanctions on the Wagner private military company following a dramatic series of events involving its leader, Evgeny Prigozhin, who defied the Kremlin by leading a march on Moscow, as reported by the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, citing insider sources.

According to the newspaper, the US State Department had planned to announce sanctions on Wagner-linked gold businesses operating in Africa, including a mining operation in the Central African Republic, on Tuesday. However, the implementation of the sanctions was put on hold after Prigozhin accused the Russian military of attacking a Wagner training camp on Friday. In response, he personally led a convoy of his troops towards Moscow the following day, vowing to confront senior Russian military leaders. The rebellion came to a peaceful resolution on Saturday evening following discussions between Prigozhin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

An anonymous source quoted by the Wall Street Journal stated, “Washington does not want to appear to be taking sides in this.” With Russian President Vladimir Putin accusing Prigozhin of treason and promising “decisive actions” against the mutineers, the US apparently believed that imposing sanctions on Wagner would inadvertently support the Russian leader.

The Wagner Group has been under US sanctions since 2017 and was designated an “entity of particular concern” by the State Department in early December over alleged infringements on religious freedom in Africa. In subsequent actions, the organization was classified as a restricted “military end user” by the US and designated a “significant transnational criminal organization” in January.

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Just last month, the US imposed sanctions on the head of Wagner’s operations in Mali.

Throughout the standoff between Prigozhin and Putin, the US and its allies refrained from commenting on the situation or making any public statements or predictions. The White House confirmed that US President Joe Biden “discussed the situation in Russia” with the leaders of France, Germany, and the UK, as stated in a press release on Saturday.

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