French far-right party removes sections on closer ties with Russia and withdrawal from NATO from its website

The French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) Party has removed part of its defense program from its website, removing sections that proposed deepening ties with Russia, ending cooperation projects with Germany, and withdrawing from NATO’s Joint Military Command. This was reported by Politico.

The publication claims that the deleted sections pertain to Marine Le Pen’s 2022 presidential campaign, in which her party disseminated 17 thematic booklets containing its proposals in various areas. The RN’s booklet on defense was removed from the party’s website this week, while the other booklets remained online.

National Rally advocated for alliance with Russia and withdrawal from NATO’s Joint Command

In its manifesto, the National Rally advocated distancing itself from Washington and claimed that it would try to improve relations with Moscow. Marine Le Pen’s party proposed to seek “an alliance with Russia on certain issues,” such as European security or the fight against terrorism. The far-right party noted that Washington “does not always behave like an ally of France.”

Le Pen’s party also said that France should “immediately” withdraw from NATO and proposed to “put an end” to military cooperation projects with Germany, given the “deep and irreconcilable doctrinal, operational, and industrial differences with Berlin.” This included plans to jointly develop new-generation battle tanks and new-generation fighters.

France-power through the implementation of a truly sovereign defense diplomacy: withdrawal from NATO’s integrated command, discussion of a new strategic agreement with the United States, dialogue with Russia on major common issues, end of structural cooperation with Germany (weapons aircraft and battle tanks in particular)… We will be seeking an alliance with Russia on a number of fundamental issues: European security, which cannot exist without Russia; the fight against terrorism, which Russia has fought more consistently than any other power; and convergence in the handling of major regional issues affecting France.

National Rally manifesto

In recent months, the National Rally party has softened some of its most controversial positions.

National Rally removed anti-NATO and pro-Russian proposals from its 2024 program

Reports indicate that the party did not reiterate these proposals in its program for the 2024 European elections. Instead, it stated that “Russia is violating international law and provoking a revision of the international order.” In particular, in March 2024, the leader of the French National Rally Party, Marine Le Pen, spoke in favor of Ukraine in the war with Russia but opposed the security agreement.

In March, MPs from the National Rally abstained from voting on military aid to Ukraine, while MPs from the left-wing France Unbowed party voted against it. 

The same month, the new leader of the National Rally and its president, Jordan Bardella, said in an interview with the newspaper that France should wait until the war in Ukraine is over before withdrawing from NATO’s joint command. 

Bardella aims to become prime minister if the National Rally wins the parliamentary elections. However, Le Pen’s party needs more partners to form a government coalition, and this will be very challenging.

Even if the National Rally wins a majority in the French parliament, Emmanuel Macron will remain president for another three years and will continue to define Paris’ defense and foreign policy.

Le Pen’s statements on Crimea and Russia’s war

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen called the occupied Crimea a legitimate part of Russia in May 2023, claiming that the residents of the peninsula had freely expressed their will.

Earlier, Le Pen said that Ukraine’s victory over Russia would allegedly unleash World War III.

Marine Le Pen expressed her admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin in the past but has distanced herself from him after Russia launched an all-out war against Ukraine in February 2022. However, in the first months of the invasion, Le Pen opposed the delivery of French weapons to Ukraine. 

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