France's Le Pen meets Putin in Moscow

25 March 2017, 12:50 | Isaac Mcdaniel

French far-right leader and Presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen met with Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Friday morning during her Moscow trip.

Russia's spokesperson told journalists at a press conference that Putin and Le Pen did not discuss Russian Federation financing her presidential campaign.

The French elections are fast approaching - and with them comes the threat of right-wing populist France, led by Front National leader Marine Le Pen.

"I have long advocated that Russian Federation and France should restore cultural, economic and strategic ties, especially at the moment when a serious terrorist threat looms over us", Le Pen said at the meeting.

Ms Le Pen favours strong links between France and Russian Federation, and wants the European Union to lift sanctions imposed on Moscow over the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

"Russia is a decisive element of the balance of power that could help bring peace to the world", she said during her February 23 speech in Paris on foreign policy.

"I was one of the few politicians in France, who were defending their own point of view on Ukraine that coincided with that of Russian Federation", she said. Le Pen went to central Africa Wednesday to speak with some 3,000 French troops who are stationed in Chad on a counter-terrorism mission.

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Putin acknowledged that Le Pen represented a spectrum of European political forces that was rapidly growing and said he would favour an exchange of ideas on bilateral relations and the current situation in Europe.

Money aside, Le Pen is also receiving support from Russia's foreign propaganda machine.

Last month an aide to staunchly pro-Europe French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron accused Russian Federation of trying to derail his campaign by spreading false rumours through state media.

The two met in the Kremlin on Friday and "were on the same wavelength", according to one of Ms Le Pen's aides, Ludovic de Danne.

A pro-Kremlin French-language website, called CrossCheck, also endorsed her anti-immigrant rhetoric by publishing a fake story in February that a north African man had attacked a French priest and that French media had hushed it up. They'll discuss the fight against terrorism and issues of Russian-French cooperation, he said.

A meeting with Putin is a coup for Le Pen and could help her burnish her foreign policy credentials.

The French presidential election is followed by parliamentary elections in June.

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