This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is like a “war from the early 20th, even the 19th century,” calling Russia “one of the last imperial colonial powers.”
Macron made the comments on July 27 as he visited the former French colony of Benin in western Africa as part of an effort to reset France’s relations with the continent, where many nations are former French colonies.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Benin President Patrice Talon, Macron said Russia acted like an imperial colonial power by deciding to invade a neighboring country to defend its interests.
“It’s a territorial war, the likes of which we thought had disappeared from European soil,” Macron said.
The French president also accused the Kremlin of launching “a new type of hybrid world war” by opting to make information, energy, and food into “military instruments placed at the service” of the war.
Referring to RT and Sputnik, Macron said Russia has caused disruption through “disinformation” and become “one of the countries to make the most forceful use of instruments of propaganda.”
The French leader’s African tour coincides with a similar trip by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who on July 27 was in Ethiopia, where he urged a gathering of African diplomats not to back a U.S.-led world order.
He said countries have to decide whether to have a world in which the West, “totally subordinated to the United States,” feels that it “has the right to decide when and how to promote its own interests without following international law.”
He told the gathering in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, that the West threw its principles “down the drain” when it imposed sanctions on Moscow over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
“I don’t have the slightest doubt that if need be, they will not hesitate to do the same in relation to any other country…which would irritate them,” he warned.
Macron has spent time during his tour reflecting on French colonialism. In Cameroon on July 26, he said the archives on French colonial rule in Cameroon would be opened “in full” and asked historians to shed light on the period’s “painful moments.”