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Putin says France resents Russia over Africa role

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview published on Wednesday that French leader Emmanuel Macron’s criticism of Moscow on Ukraine is due to “resentment” at losing allies in Africa to the Kremlin, AFP reported.

Macron has stood out amongst Western leaders as one of the most vocal opponents of Russia in recent weeks, saying that there were “no limits” to French support to Kyiv and urging others not to be “cowards.”

Tensions between France and Russia over influence in Africa have risen since the 2010s, when Moscow’s private military group Wagner deployed to areas on the continent traditionally linked to Paris.

“Such a sharp reaction, quite an emotional one, from the French president is linked, amongst other things, with what is happening in African countries,” Putin said in an interview aired on Russian state television.

He claimed France’s issue with Russia is not in Ukraine.

“The problem is different. It is the well-known Wagner group,” he said.

He said that France was upset that Russia was “stepping on its tail” in Africa, saying: “I think that there is some kind of resentment.”

Putin now rarely mentions Wagner, whose leader Yevgeny Prigozhin died in a mysterious plane crash in Russia in August last year, about two months after staging a rebellion that became the biggest threat to Putin’s long rule.

The Russian president said that “leaders of some African countries just wanted to negotiate” with Russian businessmen and that “somehow they did not want to work with the French.”

He claimed that Russia does not “pit anyone against France.”

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