France President Emmanuel Macron charged Russia with promoting anti-French propaganda in Africa in order to further its “predatory” goals in unstable African countries, where France has recently experienced military failures and a larger decline in influence.
Macron was asked to answer to critics who claim that France uses its historical economic and political links in its former colonies to further its own interests while speaking on the margins of a meeting of French-language countries in Tunisia.
Paris had to withdraw troops in Mali after the African country’s military took power in a 2020 coup amid a breakdown of relations. The military leaders subsequently invited Wagner to help with a decade long battle against Islamist militants and cut ties with France.
Russia has said Wagner neither represents the Russian state nor is paid by it. But the EU has imposed sanctions on Wagner, accusing it of carrying out clandestine operations on the Russian government’s behalf.
Last year, a United Nations report said Russian military instructors and local troops in the Central African Republic had targeted civilians with excessive force, indiscriminate killings, occupation of schools and large-scale looting.
The Kremlin has said it is a lie that Russian instructors had taken part in killings or robberies in the gold and diamond-rich country of 4.7 million people.
On Sunday, Macron said Russia’s behaviour was “predatory”.
“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 said.
“It’s done with the complicity of a Russian military junta,” he said.