Marine Le Pen met with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in a surprise move likely to reignite fears in Europe about Russian support for the European far right. However, Putin told Le Pen Russia had no intention of meddling in the French presidential elections.
“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.
Speaking after their meeting, Le Pen said Putin represented “a sovereign nation” and “new vision.” She added, “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.
Russian support for Le Pen draws some parallels between allegations that President Trump appears to have similar fond feelings towards Putin. Le Pen has publicly backed the Russian annexation of Crimea and frequently expressed admiration for Putin.
Records collected by hackers also appear to show that Le Pen had received a loan from a Russian bank in 2014 in return for taking pro-Moscow positions in public. Le Pen has denied those allegations.
There has been no proof that President Trump has any particular loyalties to Putin nor evidence to support the claim by Trump critics that Russia has in any way impacted the election between Trump and Hillary Clinton. There are significant similarities between Le Pen and Trump’s populist appeals regarding anti-immigration policies and nationalist concerns for their respective countries.