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US sanctions on UAE Wagner Group affiliate could impact Libya operation

A brief mutiny in Russia last weekend by the Wagner Group has shifted the spotlight back on the mercenary organization.

The latest US sanctions on Wagner Group-affiliated companies, including one based in the UAE, could impact the shadowy Russian mercenary group’s presence and operations in Libya, according to experts.

Last weekend, the Wagner Group, lead by founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, rose in a mutiny that threatened to descend on Moscow and derail President Vladimir Putin’s leadership. In a last-minute deal brokered by Putin's close ally, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Prigozhin agreed to stop the advance on the capital and travel to Belarus. Putin said Monday that Wagner mutineers could join the Russian army or go to Belarus. Not many more details emerged of the agreement between the Wagner chief and the Kremlin, but the mutiny has drawn the shadowy mercenary group — which has been active in Ukraine as well in the Middle East and Africa — back into the spotlight.

On Wednesday, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned four companies and one individual connected to the Wagner PMC and Prigozhin. One of the sanctioned companies was Dubai-based Industrial Resources General Trading, an industrial goods distributor. The US Treasury Department said in a statement that the company works with Diamville SAU, a sanctioned gold and diamond company controlled by Prigozhin, to allegedly ship the products from the Central African Republic to the UAE and Europe.

In January, Dubai-based aircraft company Kratol Aviation was also sanctioned by OFAC. Other UAE-based companies that are not Wagner associates have also been sanctioned due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In April, the United States sanctioned some UAE-based companies for allegedly shipping products to Russia.

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