Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova came up with a “worthy response” to French President Emmanuel Macron, who called Russia “one of the few colonial powers of the 21st century” waging an imperialist war against Ukraine (for Zakharova, this turned into “the only colonial power,” and Macron’s mention of Ukraine she omitted altogether).
“I don’t know if there is such an expression in French, but in such cases it is customary for us to say:“ the cap is on fire on the thief. Such tirades sound out of place, given France's own dubious role in Africa for many years. The world community remembers the dirty pages of the colonial policy of Paris, which is still striving to exploit the resources of the continent today, masking its neo-colonial methods and schemes with false rhetoric and imaginary concern for the welfare of Africans,” Zakharova said.
She cited three cases as examples of France's "neo-colonial policy":
- the island of Mayotte, which, according to a UN decision issued in 1979, went to the Comoros, but in fact is a department of France;
- the Epars Islands, which are the subject of a dispute between France and Madagascar
- Tromelin Island (its ownership of France is disputed by Mauritius)
In addition, Zakharova recalled that France refuses to acknowledge responsibility for war crimes and nuclear tests in Algeria, as well as for the military intervention in Libya in 2011 and the "destruction of Libyan statehood."
Zakharova's attempts to compare France's territorial disputes with Russia's aggressive war against Ukraine look highly dubious. Let's start with the Epars Islands (the so-called scattered islands in the Indian Ocean, which, by the way, includes Tromelin). These are small uninhabited islands that Madagascar and Mauritius do claim, but all these territorial disputes are now resolved exclusively in a diplomatic, not military, manner - not to mention the fact that there is no population there that would suffer from the “neo-colonial policy” of France.
As for Mayotte, despite the decision of the UN General Assembly, the inhabitants of the island regularly overwhelmingly vote for belonging to France, and not to the Comoros (in 2009, the result was 95.24% of 61.37% of those who voted). Moreover, no coercion to vote for France was recorded - its results were recognized in the European Council.
In addition, it is not particularly clear why Zakharova is reproached by France for its territorial disputes with other states, but at the same time completely forgets that Russia has exactly the same disputes (for example, with Japan over the Kuril Islands).
Zakharova also claims that France allegedly denies its responsibility for the crimes committed during the war for the independence of Algeria in 1954-1962. However, this is not true: in 2018, Macron asked for forgiveness from the widow of activist Maurice Auden, who was killed by the French military in 1957, and also admitted that the French army systematically used torture against the rebels. By the way, according to numerous investigations , the former leader of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, whose party the Kremlin has repeatedly supported , including with money, also participated in these tortures.
Finally, when Zakharova accuses France of "destroying Libyan statehood," she forgets that by the time NATO's military intervention began, a full-scale civil war between Muammar Gaddafi and the rebels was already underway in the country. In addition, Gaddafi, while in power, repeatedly interfered in the politics of other states: he unleashed a war in Chad, supported terrorist organizations (for example, the IRA ), he is considered responsible for the explosion of a plane over Lockerbie, which killed 270 people, as well as an explosion DC-10 aircraft over the Tenere desert, in which 170 people died. Thus, one can argue about the extent to which NATO's actions in Libya in 2011 were justified, but they cannot be compared with Russia's unprovoked war against Ukraine.