French President Emmanuel Macron accused Russia of "predatory projects against France in Africa."
Speaking to private broadcaster TV5Monde while in Tunisia for a summit of French-speaking nations on Sunday, Macron said Russia was leading a "predatory project" in African countries where France has suffered military setbacks and a loss of influence.
Macron also dismissed criticism that France was using economic and historical ties with former colonies to serve its own interests, saying this amounted to distortion by other countries.
"Some of the countries who want to build an influence in Africa seek to hurt France by hurting French, sow doubt, and build a base for their own interests," Macron said, adding that groups sponsored by Russia were stoking anti-French discourse on many TV channels.
France, which maintained military bases in the Sahel region of West Africa to support counter-terrorism operations, recently had to withdraw troops in Mali before the end of their mandate amid diplomatic disputes and violent protests against its presence.
Paris accuses Moscow of feeding anti-French propaganda via Wagner mercenaries across the region, primarily in Mali.
Russia says Wagner does not represent it, while France has claimed that the rise of political instability in its former African colonies is due to the increasing influence of Russia and China in the region.
Source: Anadolu Agency