French President Emmanuel Macron, visiting Benin on Wednesday, called Russia “one of the last imperial colonial powers” for its invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia has launched an offensive against Ukraine. It is a territorial war, which was thought to have disappeared from European soil.
“It’s a war from the beginning of the 20th century, even from the 19th century,” Macron said on the second leg of a trip to Africa to reset France’s relations with the continent, where many nations are former French colonies.
“I’m talking about a continent that suffered from colonial imperialism,” Macron added.
During a press conference with Beninese President Patrice Talon, Macron said that “Russia is one of the last imperial colonial powers”, because it had decided “to invade a neighboring country to defend its interests”.
Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, sparking a war that has killed thousands, displaced millions and raised fears of a global food crisis due to the blockage of grain exports.
Macron accused the Kremlin of launching “a new kind of hybrid world war”.
“He decided that information, energy and food were military instruments put at the service” of the war in Ukraine, he said.
Macron said he wanted to “describe what is happening today in the simplest terms”.
He accused Russia of disruption through “disinformation”, describing it as “one of the countries to use propaganda instruments most forcefully”. In particular, he referred to the television channels Russia Today and Sputnik.
Simultaneous Russian turn Russia has cut gas deliveries to Western Europe and Ukrainian grain has been stuck in ports since the start of the war, leading to a spike in global energy and grain prices.
Russian energy giant Gazprom on Wednesday reduced its gas exports to Europe through the Nord Stream gas pipeline to around 20% of its capacity, German authorities said.
Ukraine, meanwhile, says it has restarted operations at its Black Sea ports, a key step to resume grain exports under a UN-backed deal.
The French leader is on a tour of three African countries – Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau – which coincides with an African tour by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
In Ethiopia on Wednesday, Lavrov urged a gathering of African diplomats not to support a US-led world order.
It is up to us to decide whether to have a “world where we have (the) so-called collective West… totally subordinate to the United States and feeling… that it has the right to decide when and how to promote one’s own interests, without following international law,” he said.
The West has responded to Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine by imposing sanctions on Moscow.
In Addis Ababa, Lavrov accused the West of throwing its principles “down the drain…when they needed to do what they believe was to punish Russia.”
“I have no doubt that if necessary, they will not hesitate to do the same vis-à-vis any other country… which would irritate them,” he said. he warned.
French pledge of support to Cameroon On Tuesday, Macron said the archives on French colonial rule in Cameroon would be opened “in their entirety” and asked historians to shed light on the “painful moments” of the period.
French colonial authorities brutally suppressed armed Cameroonian nationalists before the country’s independence in 1960.
Tens of thousands of supporters of the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC) party died at the hands of French colonial troops and the first post-independence president, Ahmadou Ahidjo.
Macron also promised that France, “acting in support and at the request of our African partners”, would stand alongside African countries facing security problems.
France is reconfiguring its posture in the Sahel after falling out with the military junta in Mali, the epicenter of a bloody 10-year-old jihadist campaign in the region.
After a withdrawal from Mali that is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, the French anti-jihadist force Barkhane will have around 2,500 soldiers in the Sahel, just under half of the deployment at its peak, according to French officers.
The force will also make a tactical shift, acting more in a support role for local forces rather than taking the lead, they say.