Amid Russia’s failures on the frontlines and announced Ukrainian counteroffensive, pro-Russian politicians have intensified the spread of Kremlin narratives in Europe. France is not an exception with politicians from the National Rally (Rassemblement National), known for pro-Moscow declarations and links in the past.
The main goals of the Russian regime have been to prevent the West from supplying weapons to Ukraine, to convince that not only Russia is responsible for the ongoing cruel war, and to promote a ‘peace initiative’ which would involve immediate talks while surrendering to Russia the captured Ukrainian territories during the invasion.
Thierry Mariani, a notorious politician from the National Rally and a member of the European Parliament, recently commented on the Russia-Ukraine war on the French BFMTV. As expected, he repeated some of the narratives that fit the Russian propaganda mentioned above.
Thierry Mariani accused Europe but not Russia
Thierry Mariani says that the war in Ukraine must be stopped, and talks must start as soon as possible. Still, he does not demand the withdrawal of Russian invading troops, which illegally occupied Ukrainian territories, nor does he explain how the war can be stopped.
On the other hand, the pro-Russian politician condemns Europe for a “proxy war against Russia by providing weapons to Ukraine”. While without weapons Ukraine could not fight against the Russian invasion and daily attacks. Moreover, Mr Mariani repeats the fake statement, actively spread by Russian propaganda, that Europe is fighting till the last Ukrainian. But he doesn’t blame Putin’s regime, who started the war.
Mr Mariani doesn’t see the fact that it’s Russia who has been waging war against Ukraine, and the Ukrainians must defend their land. Mariani also went too far, accusing Poland and the Baltic states of fuelling the war… But the war was launched and is fuelled only by Russia. The only thing the world needs is for Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine, a sovereign state.
Thierry Mariani did not forget to repeat the main Russian war propaganda narrative – Russia feels threatened by the expansion of NATO to justify the war against Ukraine.
Mariani supported the Russian annexation of Crimea
Thierry Mariani is a French politician and businessman known for his sympathy for Russia and his pro-Russian stance towards Ukraine. In 2014, he visited Crimea and met with the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, which caused outrage in Ukrainian society and outside Ukraine.
Thierry Mariani has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament since 2019, elected on the list of the Rassemblement National (RN) / National Rally (former National Front) without, however, joining the party.
Mariani is the head of the openly pro-Kremlin French-Russian Dialogue Association. He illegally travelled to Crimea as part of a larger French delegation in 2017. He was part of the politically biased election observation missions at 2017 Russian regional and 2018 presidential elections. As an observer during the fraudulent 2018 elections in the so-called DPR, a pro-Russian separatist territory in Donbas, he was a member of the politically biased election observation teams.
On the Crimea issue, Mariani has openly served as a propagandist for Russia. He blasted “Europe” for referring to Crimea as occupied territory and asserting “the Crimean people’s will to join Russia in 2014.” Ukraine and the French Foreign Ministry stated that Mariani’s visit was a “violation of international law”.
Mariani under corruption investigations in France
In France, investigations are looking into allegations of corruption against former senator Yves Pozzo di Borgo and a member of the French parliament from the RN party, Thierry Mariani.
In France, investigations are underway into the Franco-Russian Dialogue association, with the courts seeking to establish whether its leaders, an MEP and a former senator, obtained advantages in exchange for adopting positions favorable to Moscow.
Two inquiries were launched in 2021 — one concerning suspicions of corruption and influence-peddling, and the other breach of trust and money laundering, the Paris prosecutor’s office said in October 2022.
Le Monde reported that Russia paid for Mariani’s and Pozzo di Borgo’s trips. According to an official familiar with the case, the court is trying to determine whether or not these benefits could have been used as a reward for loyal statements made in support of Russia.
Several right-wing and far-right French politicians have links to the Kremlin, according to a new journalistic investigation carried out by France 2, which the politicians denied.
The Kremlin’s influence strategy also reaches deep into Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National party. Two MEPs, Thierry Mariani and Philippe Olivier, have played an extensive role in spreading the Russian narrative at the EU and French levels. Mariani visited Russia in 2021 as an observer of legislative elections and within his capacity. His trip was paid for with EU funds, the documentary revealed.
Mariani was questioned by the parliamentary commission over ties with Russia
On March 28, the MEP of the National Rally, the voice of Moscow in France, was questioned by the National Assembly’s Commission of inquiry into foreign interference in France, as LeMonde reported.
Opened in January, the National Rally launched this commission of inquiry to repel accusations that the far-right party is an agent of Russian influence in France – one of the factors explaining the defeat of Marine Le Pen in the second round of the 2022 presidential election.
During the hearing, Mr Mariani remained calm and denied any wrongdoing: his numerous trips to the autocracies of the former Soviet Union were all documented and duly reported to the institutions; he claimed that he never received any financial benefit from his ties to Russia.
Moscow’s strategy: prevent the West from supporting Ukraine
Let’s return to Mariani’s statements against the weapons supply to Ukraine. Stopping weapons supply to Ukraine would mean not stopping the war but leaving Ukraine defenseless and helping the Russian regime to succeed in its fight against Ukraine. As a result of such developments, Russia would occupy and annex all of Ukraine.
Thierry Mariani does not blame Putin’s regime for the savage and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, and they argue that NATO expansion contributed to Russia’s attack. Why did Finland’s recent NATO membership not spark a war?
The politician overlooks that Russia is an imperialist state with a violent dictatorship that has invaded a neighboring sovereign country. And the only way forward for the civilized world is to resist Putin’s regime and Russia’s aggressive war.
Narratives spread by pro-Kremlin figures and which fit Kremlin’s agenda
The main narratives spread by pro-Kremlin figures, and which fit Mosocw’s agenda, are: “Stop sending weapons to Ukraine; immediate ceasefire and peace talks.” The leader of the National Rally made similar statements, Marine Le Pen, in her interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
The pseudo-peacemakers, however, forget to demand that the Russian military leave the territory of Ukraine, illegally invaded.
Why should Ukrainians “compromise” with Putin by allowing Russia to occupy 20% of their territory? Beginning discussions with Putin’s dictatorship would imply accepting its right to wage colonial war against neighboring countries.
Ukraine has a right to self-determination. They have the right to fight and demand weaponry and financial assistance from the West.
An immediate ceasefire would leave Ukrainians in Melitopol, occupied Kherson, and Luhansk suffering under Russian oppression. And why should they be subject to Russian rule? We must remember what that entails: mass arrests, torture, rape, widespread looting, the destruction of all opposition and elected officials, and the imposition of a foreign police state regime.
Thus, the influence of pro-Russian politicians who support narratives that fit Moscow’s agenda is dangerous, as it may lead to another tragedy in Ukraine, and they do not propose any viable solution.