‘If you fall into the trap, it’s over’ Macron in desperate bid to break Putin Africa hold

Macron slams Putin over war narrative in Africa speech

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While on a trip to Africa, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech to Cameroon leaders and warned against Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine. As some African countries experience disruption in food supply and a potential famine threat, the Russian President has pinned down the blame on the European Union and the West for the blockade of Ukrainian ports, claiming the economic sanctions are causing shortages of grains and fertilizer in Africa. President Macron’s visit is an attempt to counter that narrative the Russian narrative.

Speaking to Cameroon leaders, he said: “There is a crisis in liberal democracies, as I said.

“But it is used by illiberal democracies or authoritarian regimes to make people believe that it would be the same or that it would be better.

“If you fall into that trap, it’s over!

“I mean, you’re not going to have that kind of debate with President Putin or anybody else, I tell you that in all sincerity.”

Since the beginning of Ukraine’s invasion, Russia has heavily targeted information spaces in Africa with disinformation and propaganda campaigns in a bid to justify its war and sway African countries to support Russia’s action and secure Russia’s influence over the region.

“The choice made by the Europeans is in no way to participate in this war, but to recognise it and name it, where I too often see hypocrisy, particularly on the African continent […] in not knowing how to qualify a war,” President Macron said.

“There are diplomatic pressures, I am not fooled.”

As Putin is becoming increasingly isolated on the international stage amid the US and Europe’s sanctions, Russia is now seeking new alliances.

Russia is continuing its effort to gain the upper hand in Africa and restore trust with potential allies. 25 of Africa’s 54 states abstained or did not vote to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during the UN General Assembly in March.

During his visit to Africa, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has tried to recast Russia’s land grab in Ukraine as a broader East-West ideological struggle.

In an effort to gain their backing, Lavrov has mainly targeted Egypt, the Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Ethiopia – some of which have been particularly hard hit by disruption in the food supply.

Egypt is one of the world’s top wheat importers and bought 80 percent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine in 2021. 

“We confirmed the commitment of Russian exporters of cereal products to meet their orders in full,” Lavrov said in Cairo after talks with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry.

“We discussed … cooperation in this area, agreed on further contacts, and have a common understanding of the causes of the grain crisis.”

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In a column published in newspapers in the four African countries he visited, Mr Lavrov hailed what he called “an independent path” taken by African countries in refusing to join western sanctions against Russia and the “undisguised attempts of the US and their European satellites to gain the upper hand and impose a unipolar world order”.

Only a day after striking an UN-brokered deal to resume grain exports, Russian troops honed in on Ukraine’s port of Odesa, claiming it targeted only military infrastructure.

Addressing African leaders, President Macron said: “We need you. Otherwise, this pattern (of invading a country) will be repeated over and over again.

“This is not the international order we want, which is based on cooperation and respect for the sovereignty of each.”

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