Five months after the start of the war in Ukraine, the French president continues to raise his voice against Vladimir Putin’s policy, saying that
when we say things and try to qualify them,
we give ourselves the means to influence events.
Since his arrival in Africa, in Cameroon on Tuesday, then in Benin on Wednesday, he has multiplied criticism of Moscow while, at the same time, the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, was also on an African tour to affirm his attachment to the continent.
Russia is one of the last colonial imperial powers deciding
to invade a neighboring country to defend its interests theresaid Emmanuel Macron during a press conference with his Beninese counterpart Patrice Talon in Cotonou.
I speak on a continent [l’Afrique, NDLR] who suffered from colonial imperialismhe insisted.
In Yaoundé and then in Cotonou, the French president sought to warn African capitals against the
new kind of hybrid world war led by Moscow, which
decided that information, energy and food were military instruments placed at the service of the war in Ukraine.
The day before, he had bluntly denounced
especially on the African continentconsisting of not clearly recognizing that Russia was leading
unilateral aggression in Ukraine
because there are diplomatic pressures.
Like Cameroonian President Paul Biya, several African leaders do not officially condemn the Russian intervention, which is also the case in the Middle East. The subject should be discussed at the dinner that Emmanuel Macron will share Thursday at the Elysee Palace with the strong man of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman.
Russian activism in Africa
Responding from a distance, Sergei Lavrov asserted in Uganda that Russia was not responsible for the
energy and food crisesdenouncing
a very loud campaign around it.
Russia is also targeted by Emmanuel Macron for his activism in Africa, in particular through the sulphurous paramilitary group Wagner, which, according to him, comes
in support either of weakened political powers which find it difficult to assume themselves, or of illegitimate juntasin the Central African Republic and in Mali.
On the contrary, the French president is putting forward his new vision of relations between France and Africa, by presenting Benin as one of the test countries of this desire to establish a
Relations with Paris
are uninhibited and rid of the heaviness of the pastwelcomed Beninese President Patrice Talon, not hiding the complicity established with his French counterpart.
The main factor in this improvement is linked to the return to Benin by France of 26 works from the royal treasures of Abomey, capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey, which had been looted in 1892 by French colonial troops.
These restitutions changed the image of France by showing that it was possible to establish a relationship of equals, and to dispel the feeling of the Beninese that the French still had a superiority complex.explains José Pliya, advisor to Patrice Talon for heritage.
After visiting the exhibition of these treasures in Cotonou, Emmanuel Macron assured that this process would continue, while Beninese would like the return to the country of other symbolic works, such as the sculpture of God Gou, held by the Louvre Museum. .
He also claimed that France would be
always in support of Benin for its security, particularly in terms of intelligence and equipment, to deal with the multiplication of jihadist attacks in the north, on the border with Burkina Faso and Niger.
But Patrice Talon urged Paris to
go faster in the supply of equipment, in particular drones.
Anxious to highlight the role of regional organizations, Emmanuel Macron said to himself
willing to attend a meeting of
Accra Initiative which brings together six West African countries in the fight against jihadism.
With the same objective, he is expected in Guinea-Bissau to discuss Thursday with its president who has just taken over the presidency of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).