Le Pen ‘totally aligned and dependent’ on Putin, Macron’s ally lashes out before election

Macron’s ally launches scathing attack on Marine Le Pen

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Marine Le Pen’s links to Putin’s Russia are re-emerging in the French political debate ahead of the second round. The scandal started with her campaign leaflet featuring Putin and Ms Le Pen shaking hands. And it could follow Ms Le Pen until the end of the French presidential election, as a Macron ally hit out at her on French TV channel BFMTV this morning. Head of Macron’s party in the French parliament, Christophe Castaner, ironically asked on BFMTV: “is Marine Le Pen today credible on the international scene when she was totally linked to Vladimir Putin – even on the eve of the invasion of Ukraine?”

“The same one who, while we were receiving President Zelensky in the National Assembly and the Senate, declared a few days ago that she had no admiration for Zelensky and that she maintained her admiration for Putin.”

“Indeed, the French must ask themselves simple questions: do they want to entrust their diplomacy and their army to someone who is totally aligned with and dependent.

“You recalled the financial dimension – on countries which today are not democratic countries and in particular Russia.”

The scathing attack comes a few days after Ms Le Pen said Putin could “of course” become an ally of France again once the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war is over.

She also said she has a “reasonable position towards Russia and Putin” and defended herself saying that she “had condemned Russia when it invaded Ukraine.”

In 2017, she said Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea was “absolutely not illegal” given that a referendum was held.  

Marine Le Pen went on an official visit to the Kremlin ahead of the 2017 presidential election. She shook hands with Putin, and that picture of them is still visible on her campaign website, which questions her intentions.

Ms Le Pen’s far-right party, the National Rally, was also embroiled in a 9-million-euro loan scandal with a Russian bank.

“Marine Le Pen has a nostalgic look at a fantasised past”, Castaner said, adding that he had “not forgotten where she came from.”

“Her first supporter is Eric Zemmour. Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen are two sides of the same coin.”

After losing the first round with 7 percent of the votes, far-right candidate Eric Zemmour called on his supporters to vote for Ms Le Pen.

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When asked whether he would call on other parties to block the National Rally and Marine Le Pen, Castaner said: “the real issue facing the French in the next 15 days is one of project versus project.”

“Emmanuel Macron has a clear plan, an honest plan, a realistic plan because it is achievable. It is the complete opposite of what Marine Le Pen is doing.”

Before the 24 April’s runoff, Ms Le Pen and President Macron will be facing off in a televised debate scheduled for April 20 – a repeat of the 2017 debate that opposed the same candidates. Emmanuel Macron was then deemed the clear winner of the debate that propelled him to power.

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