Macron Accuses Russia of Using Food as Weapon

French President Macron accused Russia of using the global food crisis as a “weapon of war” during his visit to Cameroon on Tuesday. Macron rejected the suggestions that Western sanctions were to blame for the food crisis. Like many other developing nations, Cameroon has been struggling with high prices for oil, fertilizers and foodstuffs. Severe fuel shortages hit the nation’s capital, Yaounde, last week leading to long queues at petrol stations.

Macron’s Cameroon visit is part of a three leg tour of Africa which will continue with Benin and Guinea-Bissau on Wednesday and Thursday. He aims to strengthen political ties and help boost agricultural production in the region amid the growing food insecurity linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

African governments have largely avoided taking sides so far and refused to join Western condemnation and sanctions.

At the same time, anti-French sentiment is on the rise in France’s former West African colonies, where security concerns following a string of coups are stoking frustration and swinging public opinion in favor of Russia.

Macron reiterated his position that the European sanctions are not to blame for the cause of the world’s food crisis, including Africa.

He argued that food, like energy, has become a Russian weapon of war. He added that they must help the African continent to produce more for itself.

Many African nations are dependent on Russian energy and grains, as well as Ukrainian grain, the delivery of which has been disrupted because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions for disrupting its food and fertilizer exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its ports.

Cameroon, both a mineral-rich nation and a major food producer for Central Africa, has been targeted by Macron’s delegation as an investment hotspot for the agricultural sector through a Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission initiative launched in March with the African Union to boost food production.

Macron has met Cameroonian President Biya, who has been ruling the country for 40 years. The relations between the two leaders have been strained after Macron said in 2020 that he will put pressure on Biya to put an end to human rights violations in the country, an allegation which was denied at the time by Cameroon’s government.

The trip, which is Macron’s first in Africa since his re-election in April, coincides with visits by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa to different countries across the continent.

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