Why Putin has received Le Pen
Less than a month before the French presidential election Russian President Vladimir Putin has received Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, in Moscow. This was the first face-to-face meeting between the two. Commentators discuss what strategy Putin is following with the meeting.
Moscow wants to destabilise the EU
Putin's hosting Le Pen shortly before the elections in France sends out a political signal, Jutarnji list believes:
“Russia's president has set another stone in his mosaic aimed at destabilising the European Union. Unashamedly, Moscow is stretching out a hand to the forces that oppose a stronger EU, whether they be populists, nationalists, or even proven neo-fascists like the National Front, which was founded by Marine's father Jean-Marie Le Pen. In essence this is not about ideology but about the convergence of geopolitical strategies. (After all, the Molotov-Ribentropp Pact also overcame ideological differences.) Putin's Russia decided that the EU was not a partner but a rival in the moment when the Union dared to counter the logic of spheres of interest with the postulate of international law. ... The bone of contention was Ukraine.”
Strategy based on old traditions
Russia's support for the far right follows in the Soviet tradition of supporting groups that are well disposed to Russia abroad, Postimees comments:
“Putin's Russia is pursuing the same tactics even though its allies are not really respected and the potential advantages are unclear. Putin's friends in Europe who promise to revise their relations with East Europe in Russia's favour are politicians on the fringes of the political spectrum. Marine Le pen has become a figurehead of the European far right in recent years. Her visit to Moscow, however, harked back to the Russian emperors and Genghis Khan, to whom they had to kowtow in order to have their right to rule reaffirmed.”