Front National candidate in the French presidential election, Marine Le Pen, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday.
Putin received Le Pen warmly, and said that Russia had no intention of meddling in the French presidential election. “We do not want to influence events in any way, but we retain the right to meet with all the different political forces, just like our European and American partners do,” said Putin.
Le Pen has openly supported Russia and spoke against Western sanctions, and also defended Russian actions in Crimea and Ukraine.
Le Pen traveled to Moscow at the invitation of an MP for meetings in the Russian parliament, but she later unexpectedly met with Putin in the Kremlin.
“Of course, it would be very interesting to share our opinions about how our bilateral relations are doing, and about the situation that is developing in Europe,” Putin told Le Pen. “I know that you represent a European political force that is growing quickly.”
“A new world has emerged in the past years. This is Vladimir Putin’s world, Donald Trump’s world in the United States, Mr [Narendra] Modi’s world in India,” she added.
“I think I am probably the one who shares with all these great nations a vision of cooperation and not one of subservience – a hawkish vision that has too often been expressed by the European Union.”
Le Pen’s party, Front National, was criticized in France after it received a loan from a Kremlin-linked bank. However, Le Pen denied that she has any business ties with Russia, and said she would be happy to receive a loan from French banks. However, she made acknowledged Front National has taken loans from foreign banks because French financial institutions refuse to fund the presidential campaign.
The meeting between Le Pen and Putin caused renewed fears in regard to Russia’s links with European populists.
Currently, Le Pen is leading the polls and is expected to win in the first round of French presidential election. Still, almost all polls see her losing comfortably to centrist Emmanuel Macron.
Source: The Guardian
Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images