Russia's Alexey Saltykov says the accusations by the French leader reflect a ?neo-colonial approach?
French claims that Moscow is pursuing a "predatory project" in Africa merely "reflect the neo-colonial approach of Western countries to cooperation with African states," Alexey Saltykov, Russia's ambassador to the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, told Sputnik in an interview published on Saturday.
Saltykov's remarks come after French President Emmanuel Macron blamed Russia for his country's deteriorating relations with its former colonies.
Protest movements against France have recently swept Africa's Sahel region, with many people expressing pro-Russian sentiments. Paris has begun to withdraw its troops from some nations following failures in combating security threats, and Macron admitted that French influence in the region has diminished.
According to France's president, Moscow is feeding disinformation in Africa, particularly Burkina Faso and Mali where Paris has suffered military setbacks. He stated in November 2022 that there was a "predatory project" at work in the region, "financed by Russia, sometimes others." Macron alleged that "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."
However, Saltykov argued that local people have started to question the benefits of cooperation with France, resulting in a decline in the country's influence.
"As for France, I think the events that took place speak of shifts in the mass consciousness of Burkinabes, and not only of them, but also of other African countries," the ambassador told Sputnik. He added that "under the influence of world events, Africans are beginning to understand more what France's policy was like, whether it was productive and useful in everything for bilateral cooperation."
The envoy to the two Sahel countries proposed that African problems be solved by Africans themselves, but that Russia was willing to assist. He also said that as a sovereign state, Burkina Faso should decide with whom it wishes to collaborate.
He further stated that African countries should rely on the UN Charter, which forms a universal basis for establishing relations, rather than on the policies of individual countries, which change depending on the political situation. Saltykov said dealing with the terrorist threat in the Sahel would require as much cooperation as possible.
The envoy also mentioned the Russian embassy in Burkina Faso, which was closed in 1992 for financial reasons, and expressed optimism about its reopening in line with Russia's strategic course of developing relations with countries on the continent.