Who lobbies the interests of the Kremlin in the European Parliament

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the measures used by the Kremlin to obstruct democratic processes in the EU were recently revealed by a special committee of the European Parliament.

Russian influence

The European Parliament is one of the Kremlin’s targets, according to the committee’s report from last March, which was released in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Here, MPs who support Moscow can openly take pro-Russian stances during formal proceedings while also quietly advocating for the Kremlin’s objectives.

With accessible data, it is possible to identify “Putinist parliamentarians” in the European Parliament. All you need to do is look at how each MP votes on resolutions that concern Russia and its allies.

With a majority vote in late November 2022, the European Parliament adopted a resolution asking that Russia be recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Of 705 MEPs (members of the European Parliament), 494 supported the decision. The remaining MEPs found themselves in the limelight of the media, particularly those who were present at the session and either voted against the motion (58 votes) or abstained (44 votes).

Many media sites searched for a group of MEPs who were committed to the Kremlin, and some of them were found to have ties to Russia.

Latest votings

10 of the 12 resolutions enacted after February 24, 2022, dealt with the Ukrainian War and its Repercussions.

The EU condemned Russia’s aggression, supported the passage of new safeguards to protect fleeing families with young children and maintain food security, and recognized Russia as a state supporter of terrorism and the Holodomor as a genocide.

The creation of a tribunal to look at the crimes committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in January 2023 was approved by MEPs.

An average of 531 (75%) of the 705 members of the European Parliament voted in favor of the anti-Russian resolutions that we looked at. A little more than 40 people on average (6%) voted against it, while the same number (6%) decided to abstain.

Populists are de-facto Putinists?

More frequently than not, populist or radical agendas vote against resolutions critical of Putin. These Putinist parties include the National Rally in France, the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) in Germany, and Syriza in Greece.

Photo: Novaya Gazeta

However, the “output factor” of each of those parties varies. The first factor is the number of seats held by those parties in the European Parliament, and the second factor is how firmly the concerned MEPs are prepared to defend Moscow’s objectives. For instance, some people actively oppose proposals, whereas others are more reserved and opt to abstain or not vote at all.

From this vantage point, the National Rally and Alternative for Germany parties continue to be the most advantageous for the Russian government because they jointly hold 28 seats in the European Parliament and frequently cast “against” votes on anti-Russian resolutions.

Jordan Bardella, 27, has served as the official leader of the National Rally party since November 2022.

Nonetheless, Bardella’s loyalty to his predecessor, Marine Le Pen, is undeniable, and it is clear that she oversees the behavior of her party members in the European Parliament.

Before the Ukrainian War, Le Pen’s party had been charged with having both personal and financial ties to the Kremlin. Yet despite Le Pen denouncing Russian aggression during her presidential campaign after February 24 and even destroying flyers featuring a picture of her with Putin, her party’s MEPs frequently vote against the interests of Moscow at the European level. For instance, on 17 of the 22 occasions we looked at, Jordan Bardella either abstained or voted against.

Not all anti-EU MEPs are pro-Russian

It is not always true that all MEPs who frequently vote against anti-war and anti-Kremlin motions are “pro-Putin,” though.

Depending on the parties they represent, their opinions can range from the far-left to the far-right. Their extreme divergence from the dominant perspective in Europe binds them together.

Some MEPs are genuinely consistent in their radicalism; they indiscriminately oppose condemning Turkey’s and China’s human rights abuses or Russian involvement in Ukraine.

Photo: Novaya Gazeta Europe

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