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Le Pen vows to keep Russia close to prevent an alliance with China

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said today that, if she were president, she would engage with Russia after the war in Ukraine to ensure Moscow doesn’t create an alliance with Beijing.

Le Pen, who faces a second-round run-off with incumbent Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, argues that she is on Ukraine’s side in the war because she is a supporter of national sovereignty. She has, however, been a long-standing admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has received party loans from a Russian bank.

“It will be necessary diplomatically, when the war [in Ukraine] is over, when a peace treaty has been signed, to try to avoid this tie-up which risks being the largest danger of the 21st century for us,” Le Pen said in an interview with French public radio.

Recasting her long-standing desire for rapprochement with Moscow in new geopolitical terms, Le Pen argued: “Imagine … if we let the first producer of raw materials in the world — which is Russia — [create an alliance] with the first factory of the world — which is China — to let them perhaps constitute the first military power of the world. I believe that it’s potentially a great danger,” Le Pen said.

Le Pen has long wanted France and Europe to ally themselves with Putin’s Russia. In 2011, she told Russian daily Kommersant that France and Russia have “common civilizational and strategic interests” and said that she wants France out of NATO’s integrated command structure.

The far-right candidate still continues to defend Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. “Crimea was never invaded … there was a referendum in Crimea,” she said during today’s interview, calling the 2014 invasion of Crimea “a radically different situation” from the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Her National Rally party — formerly the National Front — is also strongly linked to Russia. Between 2014 and 2015, the National Front received €11 million of Russian financing, according to French investigative outlet Mediapart.

Turning to another controversy of the campaign — an embezzlement investigation by the EU’s anti-fraud watchdog OLAF — Le Pen retorted: “I’m used to the EU’s dirty tricks.”

Le Pen and three former National Front members of the European Parliament — including her own father Jean-Marie Le Pen — are facing a probe for having allegedly misused EU public funds, according to documents revealed by Mediapart.

The four former MEPs allegedly used over half a million euros from 2004 to 2017 for their own national party’s activities rather than for their work as European parliamentarians.

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