Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) French President Emmanuel Macron accused Russia of spreading anti-French propaganda in African nations.
In an interview on the sidelines of a conference of French-speaking countries in Tunisia last week, Macron described Moscow’s move as “predatory,” Reuters reported on Sunday.
He noted that propagandists accuse France of abusing its influence in Africa to pursue its own interests.
“This perception is fed by others, it’s a political project,” he pointed out and added “I’m no fool, many influencers, sometimes speaking on your programmes, are paid by the Russians… we know them.”
“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,” Macron warned.
France maintains close relations with its former colonies in Africa and announced earlier this month the withdrawal of its troops from Mali, where they were stationed for nearly a decade to help in the fight against terrorism.
As Mali’s military junta took power in 2020 and severed ties with Paris, France started pulling out its troops and the new government invited the Russian Wagner Group paramilitary organisation to help in the fight against jihadists.
“You only have to look at what’s going on in the Central African Republic or elsewhere to see that the Russian project under way there, when France is pushed aside, is a project of predation,” Macron stressed.
Last year, the UN accused Russian military instructors in the Central African Republic of killing civilians and looting, among other. Moscow rejected the accusations.
Also last year, the EU imposed sanctions against the Wagner Group and its leaders, accusing them of human rights violations, extrajudicial killings and destabilisation efforts in the Central African Republic, Libya, Syria and Ukraine.
The bloc added that the Wagner Group was “spreading its malign influence elsewhere, notably in the Sahel region.”
Western leaders have expressed concern about the Wagner Group, noting that reports say group members are responsible for massacres in Mali.
According to reports, group members also staged attacks on mines in the border zone between the Central African Republic and Sudan.