Marine Le Pen downplays ties to Russia ahead of second round of elections – POLITICO


PARIS — France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said on Wednesday that accusations that she was close to Russia were “unfair” and reiterated that she had changed her stance on the Kremlin since the war in Ukraine.

“The trial to which I am subjected is particularly unfair,” the Rassemblement national politician told a press conference in Paris, during which she outlined her foreign policy proposals ahead of the April 24 second round of voting. against incumbent President Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential election.

“Until the outbreak of war in Ukraine, I actually thought it was in France’s interest to have closer ties with Russia again, and… to prevent Russia from building such a strong alliance with China,” Le Pen said.

But since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Le Pen has struggled to shake off the image of a pro-Vladimir Putin candidate, despite her attempts to downplay her affinity with the Russian leader and portray herself as a more common choice in the presidential race. .

A longtime admirer of Putin, Le Pen visited the Kremlin in 2017, hailed the Russian president’s “new vision” of the world and accepted Russian loans to fund her party. Last month, Le Pen’s campaign staff should have thrown away more than a million campaign leaflets because they featured a picture of her shaking hands with Putin. Earlier in February, Le Pen said she did “not believe at all” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and condemned “a misunderstanding of issues and thinking” in Russia.

She has since backtracked, admitting on TV that the conflict had “changed her opinion” of Putin, and she has always condemned the invasion. Earlier this month, she called reports of civilian massacres by Russian troops in Bucha “war crimes” and called for a UN investigation.

On Wednesday, Le Pen said she shared Macron’s desire to “connect Russia to Europe”, when he invited Putin to the Palace of Versailles in 2017 and to his summer residence in Brégançon two years later. late.

She added that she was in favor of closer ties between NATO and Russia “once the war between Russia and Ukraine is over and resolved by a peace treaty”.

Le Pen also argued that she was “independent” from any foreign power and had obtained a loan from a Russian bank “because I never managed to obtain a loan neither in France…until ‘now… nor in Europe’. She added that the party continues to repay this loan.

During the press conference, Le Pen also downplayed his Eurosceptic stance.

“No one is against Europe,” she said, insisting that wanting to transform the EU was “saving it”.

“It’s the shape of it that puts us at odds,” she said.

However, Le Pen’s previous statements on Europe include a proposal to renegotiate EU treaties and include the primacy of French law over EU law in the country’s constitution after a referendum.




Politico

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