French President Emmanuel Macron has blamed Russia for spreading anti-French propaganda in Africa to advance its “predatory” interests in the continent’s troubled nations.
At a press conference on the sidelines of the Summit of French-speaking Nations in Tunisia, Macron was asked to address claims that France uses its historical economic and political ties with its former colonies for self-serving purposes.
Macron stated in an interview with TV5 Monde, “This perception is fed by others; it’s a political project.”
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“I’m no fool, many influencers, sometimes speaking on your programs, are paid by the Russians. We know them,” he said.
He continued, “A number of powers, who want to spread their influence in Africa, are doing this to hurt France, hurt its language, sow doubts, but above all pursue certain interests.”
French military ties span all of Francophone Africa, and the country spent a decade stationing troops in Mali as part of a counter-terrorism operation. France was the colonial power in much of Western and central Africa.
France’s operation has been criticized as a failure contributing to regional instability.
Wagner Group, a private military contractor, has recently been stationed in several countries, including the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali, as part of its influence-peddling competition with Russia.
There was a breakdown in relations between Paris and Mali after the military of that African country staged a coup in 2020 and assumed power. Leaders in the military severed ties with France and subsequently invited Wagner to assist in a decade-long fight against Islamist militants.
Russia has stated that Wagner does not speak for or receive compensation from the Russian government. EU sanctions against Wagner are based on allegations that it is conducting covert operations on behalf of the Russian government.
A United Nations report from last year stated that local troops in the Central African Republic, under the guidance of Russian military instructors, had engaged in widespread looting, occupied schools, and used excessive force against civilians.
The Kremlin has denied allegations that Russian trainers were involved in crimes against people in the country of 4.7 million, which is rich in gold and diamonds.
French President Emmanuel Macron referred to Russia’s actions as “predatory” on Sunday.
“You only have to look at what’s going on in the Central African Republic or elsewhere to see that the Russian project underway there, when France is pushed aside, is a project of predation,” Macron said.
He says, “it’s done with the complicity of a Russian military junta.”
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