The Kremlin's private military company Wagner Group is expanding its mining business in Africa, Politico reported on Jan. 19, referring to a Western official and U.S. internal reports obtained by the outlet.
Wagner has considerably expanded its mining business in the Central African Republic to reap up to $ 1 billion in profits. The Western official told Politico that money will highly likely go for buying weapons and paying mercenaries.
The United States has for years warned that Wagner Group has been using mining profits to support the Kremlin regime, evading Western sanctions. New data about Wagner PMC's projects in Central Africa show continuous growth of profit to fund the Russian full-scale war in Ukraine, Politico wrote.
According to the diplomatic cable acquired by the editorial staff, Wagner Group has turned a gold mine located near the town of Bambari into a massive complex that spans eight production zones, with the largest one of over 60 meters (200 feet) deep.
The United States says the group is intended for long-term exploration as it fortified the mine, constructed bridges with truck-mounted anti-aircraft guns at key locations.
The CAR bans U.N. peacemakers from launching drones at the mine's location with some of them even shot down by the country's military. U.S. officials consider this evidence of the political power of the Wagner Group in the country.
At the beginning of the summer U.S. newspaper the New York Times reported that Wagner PMC owns several gold mines in Sudan to raise money for the Kremlin's regime amid sanctions and pressure from the West. "Wagnerites" also use natural resources from other countries, Politico reported earlier.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby has said that the Wagner Group's owner and Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin is spending more than $100 million per month to fund his group’s operations inside Ukraine.
According to the U.S. estimates, about 50,000 Wagner's mercenaries are located in Ukraine. About 10,000 of them are contract soldiers, while others were recruited in prisons.