French President Emmanuel Macron announced this week his decision to reduce his country's military presence in African countries, as part of his country's policy change towards the "Black Continent".
On the eve of his trip to four African countries - Gabon, Angola, Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - Macron says that France will make a "visible" reduction of its military forces stationed in the various African countries, all of them former colonies, and will develop a new model of partnership with these countries.
The French military bases will be transferred to the African countries and France, for its part, will invest more in training the armies of these countries and in supplying ammunition.
"We are closing a circle that was under the influence of the military and security issues," Macron said in a speech he delivered in Paris.
The French president stated that his country intends to change its approach to African countries in such a way that investments in the various infrastructures will replace the financial aid policy.
French military forces have already recently left Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic and Mali.
A French military presence still exists in Côte d'Ivoire, Chad, Niger, Senegal, Gabon and the strategic country in the Horn of Africa, and in Djibouti, where French forces are planned to remain.
French army forces in Mali,
At the same time as the reduction of the French military presence, the West is following with great concern the strengthening of the Russian military presence in Africa.
These are not soldiers from the Russian army, but mercenaries, and mainly "Wagner Force" fighters.
According to Western intelligence reports, the Russian fighters are trying to destabilize the government in Chad, are staying in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali (where a military coup was carried out in 2020), Libya (which is still in civil war) and other countries in the south and center of the continent.
The map of the situation of Africa at the moment, photo: none
These forces perform various tasks - from security services for the heads of government and regimes in these countries, to suppressing political rivals and guarding economic-strategic sites.
Also, Russia supplies weapons to various countries in Africa.
"Force Wagner" fighters, who are also active in Ukraine, are credited with torture, massacres and targeted murders of opposition figures in various African countries.
Russian mercenaries at a military airport in northern Mali,
Although the "Wagner Force" fighters suffered a military defeat against extremist Islamic organizations in Mozambique and were forced to leave the country at the end of 2019, this blow did not prevent Russia from continuing to spread its influence throughout Africa and turning the continent into another front against the West, inspired by the "Cold War" period.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Mali in early February - his third trip to Africa since last summer - and promised the countries of the "Black Continent" increased military assistance in the fight against extremist Islamic forces in their territory.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with his counterpart in Mali, photo: Reuters
Last January, Lavrov visited Angola, South Africa and Swaziland (formerly Swaziland).
On that occasion, South Africa expressed its support for the military cooperation between Russia and China, and it even recently participated in a joint military exercise for the three countries.
In the countries of West Africa, there is widespread dissatisfaction with France's inability to defeat the extremist Islamic organizations, whose headquarters in Mali have in recent years expanded their operations to undermine security and stability in the neighboring countries - especially Niger and Burkina Faso, where they hope that the brutal methods of operation of the Russian mercenaries will help more in dealing with the growing problem.
Thousands of civilians were murdered and killed during the clashes between government forces and the extremist Islamic organizations in West Africa, and millions more were forced to abandon their homes.
Attacks by extremist Islamic organizations have also recently spread to Benin, Ivory Coast and Togo.
Mali has already received helicopters and fighter jets as well as hundreds of "military advisers" from Russia.
Russian mercenaries in Mali, photo: AP
Lavrov promised during his trip that Russia would give more extensive support to Africa in the face of the "neo-colonial approach" of the West, and that it would provide support for solving Africa's problems.
This coming July, a Russian-African summit will be held in St. Petersburg to strengthen ties between the parties.
Among the countries that voted last week against the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly to end the war in Ukraine were some of Moscow's old-new allies in Africa, including Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Eritrea. A larger number of African countries (15), including South Africa, abstained from voting.
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