Le Pen calls Russia’s support for her RN party “foreign interference”

The de facto leader of the French far-right National Rally party commented on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s message in which Russia expressed support for her party before the second round of the French parliamentary elections on July 7, Le Figaro reported.

Le Pen calls Russia’s support for her party “foreign interference”

The re-elected RN MP for Pas-de-Calais, who was a guest on TF1’s “20 heures” on Wednesday evening, had to defend the Russian Foreign Ministry’s assertion that “the French people are looking for a sovereign foreign policy.”

Le Pen stated, “You can equate such an ostentatious and provocative tweet with a form of interference.”

If Russia believed “they had an interest, they would not have tweeted,” she claimed.

Previously, observers and EU officials pointed out Russian interference in the electoral process in Europe to promote far-right and anti-EU parties. Dozens of anti-EU and pro-Russian media outlets publish pieces that support the National Rally and Reconquer far-right parties.

Russian Foreign Ministry expressed support for Le Pen’s party

While its opponents accuse the RN party of being pro-Kremlin, the Russian Foreign Ministry gave the National Rally a poisoned gift.

With four days to go before the second round of parliamentary elections, Andrei Nastasin, deputy director of the Information and Press Department, stated on the official government account on X that “the French people are looking for a sovereign foreign policy that serves their national interests and a break with the diktat of Washington and Brussels.”

The post, enhanced with a photo of a smiling Marine Le Pen on stage at a rally, looks like a clear endorsement from Moscow in the middle of the French election campaign.

Marine Le Pen said that she “does not feel responsible at all for Russian provocations against France and its President, Emmanuel Macron.”

At the same time, Le Pen reiterated that she would “maintain support for Ukraine” if she gained an absolute majority in parliament. But she then drew a red line if this were the case: “No French soldiers would be sent to the front.”.

Earlier, the Kremlin said that the result of the first round of early parliamentary elections in France confirms the trends that “have been outlined in a number of European countries even earlier.”

The leader of the National Rally, Jordan Bardella, said that if his party comes to power, he will not allow Russia to “absorb Ukraine.”

Le Pen’s ties with the Kremlin in the past

In May 2023, Marine Le Pen was questioned at the National Assembly in a latest hearing of the Commission on Foreign Interference over a €9.4 million loan taken out by her party, the National Front (now National Rally), from a Russian bank.

Le Pen defended herself before a parliamentary commission of inquiry, claiming she was not under Russian influence. The loan from a Russian bank to the far-right RN party raised questions since it came after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, which was ruled illegal by the EU and the US but was supported by Marine Le Pen.

The French far-right leader kept close ties with Putin for many years. Marine Le Pen had declared her admiration for Putin, disseminated a claim about ‘Nazis in Ukraine’, and supported the Crimea annexation by Russia, despite Moscow’s violations of human rights and international law. 

Marine Le Pen distanced herself from Vladimir Putin after he launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Keeping ties with the Kremlin could lead to a decline in popularity as the French condemn Russia’s war.

The RN’s party stance on the Russia-Ukraine war

However, in 2022–23, Le Pen’s declarations on the Russia-Ukraine war still benefited the narratives that Russia is trying to push in Europe. In 2022, she criticized the weapons supply to Ukraine.

Later, Le Pen condemned Russia’s war aggression and supported defensive weapons supplies to Ukraine, but she spoke against offensive weapons supplies, asserting that this could spark a war between Russia and NATO. Without weapons, Ukraine would not have enough resources to repel Russian attacks on the ground and bombardments of the cities.

Le Pen’s party also abstained from voting in the National Assembly on France’s security agreement with Ukraine.

New scandals over Russian influence

Recently, Le Pen’s party was hit by new scandals over ties with Moscow. The French outlet Mediapart has conducted an investigation into alleged Russian funding received by the far-right politicians, namely the representative of the National Rally (formerly National Front), Jean-Luc Schaffhauser.

In the new investigation, Mediapart analysts concluded that Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, who was a member of the European Parliament in 2014 and negotiated a loan for Le Pen’s party from a Russian bank, owns a foundation that received hundreds of thousands of euros in exchange for promoting Moscow’s position during his speeches in the European Parliament.

French media also reported that French far-right party National Rally has been employing a former Russian model, Tamara Volokhova, who has both French and Russian passports, and was reported as an alleged Kremlin’s “agent of influence”.

Ms. Volokhova received a French passport in 2020 despite a leaked report from the DGSI, France’s intelligence service, that identified her as a suspected “agent of influence” working for the Russian government, Mediapart wrote.

Observers suggest that the RN’s u-turn in its policies towards Russia is purely for electoral points.

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