In France, Marine Le Pen was questioned at the National Assembly in the 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), with a Russian bank.
For four hours, the far-right leader responded to charges from a dozen MPs about her links with Russia and the conditions under which a Russian bank granted her party a loan.
Le Pen denies that Russia influenced her in exchange for a loan
Le Pen defended herself at length before a parliamentary commission of inquiry, claiming to be under Russian influence. Marine Le Pen denied any allegiance to Russia, no facts were established with certainty.
Did Russia use Marine Le Pen in exchange for a loan of over 9 million euros in 2014? The question that the hearing had to answer. It lasted nearly four hours, with the same answer hammered home each time by the three-time presidential candidate: “The arrival of a loan never changed one iota of the position and ideas that were ours”, she claimed.
On the other hand, Marine Le Pen disassociated herself from her MEPs when asked about their pro-Russian stances, their suspicious trips to Russia or annexed Crimea, and denied all the committee’s accusations: “I never mentioned the existence of this loan in the conversation I had in 2017 with Vladimir Putin”, Le Pen said.
Loan to Le Pen’s party came after Russian annexation of Crimea, that she justified
This loan raises questions because it came after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, an illegal act applauded by Marine Le Pen. Was it Russia’s way of thanking the party president? At the National Assembly, she said the same defense argument: there was no quid pro quo for the Russian loan. According to her, the party had no choice but to borrow from a Russian bank, since no French bank would accept to do so.
Despite logical suspicions and questions, the hearing didn’t prove a link between Russian authorities and Marine Le Pen, a far-right leader who is already preparing for the 2027 presidential elections.
Le Pen distanced herself from Putin, but her statements benefit Russia
Marine Le Pen distanced herself from Vladimir Putin after he decided to invade Ukraine. Keeping ties with the Kremlin could lead to a decline in popularity as the French condemn Russia’s war.
However, Le Pen’s declarations on the Russia-Ukraine war still benefited the argument that Russia is trying to push in Europe. She criticized the weapons supply to Ukraine. Le Pen repeated fear-mongering about a possible global war outbreak.
Western weapons help Ukraine to repel Russian attacks on the ground and protect cities from missile strikes. Marine Le Pen states that peace talks must start but fails to mention that Russia must withdraw troops from illegally occupied Ukrainian lands.
The French far-right leader kept close ties with Putin for many years. Le Pen had declared her admiration for Putin, support for his policies and Crimea annexation, despite Moscow’s violations of human rights and international law.
Marine Le Pen condemned Russia’s war aggression and supported defensive weapons supply to Ukraine, but she spoke against offensive weapons supply, asserting that this could spark a war between Russia and NATO. Stopping weapons supply to Ukraine would not stop the war. Without weapons, Ukraine would not have enough resources to repel Russian attacks on the ground and bombardments of the cities. In this scenario, Russia would capture more Ukrainian territories.