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13 Mar, 2024 13:42

Russia not responsible for anti-French sentiment in Africa – Putin

Moscow maintains only friendly relations with the continent, which should not offend anyone, the president has said
Russia not responsible for anti-French sentiment in Africa – Putin

Russia is focused on its own development strategy and is not in any way inciting African countries against France and its Western allies, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with RIA Novosti published on Wednesday.

Moscow’s relations with African nations, particularly Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, which are under military rule, have been stirring discontent in the EU since French troops were forced out of all three.

Each country has accused Paris of aggression and of meddling in their domestic affairs. The Sahel nations recently formed an alliance and have intensified cooperation with Russia, including on security, to tackle a decade-long jihadist insurgency that they said French troops failed to quell.

In response to the allegations, Putin told RIA Novosti that, while several former French colonies no longer want to cooperate with Paris, Russia cannot be held accountable for the setbacks.

“We have nothing to do with it; we don’t incite anyone there; we don’t set anyone up against France. We don’t set such tasks for ourselves,” he said.

“We are just friends with them; that’s all. They want to develop relations with us. Well, for God’s sake, we are going to meet them halfway. There is nothing to be offended by,” Putin added.

Russia previously denounced France’s accusations that Moscow is pursuing a predatory agenda in Africa and fueling anti-French sentiment, calling this a “neo-colonial approach” of Western governments to engagement with the continent.

Despite Western criticism, African leaders are increasingly supportive of Moscow’s presence in their countries, with Rwandan President Paul Kagame declaring that Russia, like any other country, is entitled to be present anywhere on the continent.

In late January, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters that the bloc has a dilemma over its remaining presence in the Sahel region, particularly Mali, where he claims Moscow’s influence has grown.