Russia is not seeking to influence the presidential race in France, but has the right to meet with representatives of the country’s political parties, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his meeting on Friday with the leader of France’s National Front and one of the two front-runners in that country’s presidential race Marine Le Pen who visited him in the Kremlin, TASS reported.
Le Pen noted that France and Russia have deep cultural, economic and strategic ties, adding that “this meeting is especially important when we are facing such a serious terrorist threat,” the French politician noted.
Reuters suggested that the meeting with Putin is “a coup for Le Pen,” boosting her foreign policy credentials. Despite her gains with French voters, she has not been endorsed or even mention by European politicians save for the far-right parties.
Putin, for his part, was obviously talking about not influencing the French elections while referencing a different campaign, across the Atlantic.
“We attach great importance to our ties with France, and we try to maintain equal relations both with representatives of the current authorities and the opposition,” Putin said.
“We do not want to influence the [French presidential election] in any way, but we have the right to maintain contact with all representatives of the country’s political forces, like our partners do, for example in Europe and in the United States,” he insisted.
“Of course, it would be very interesting to exchange views with you on how our bilateral relations are developing and on the current situation in Europe. I know that you represent a group of fast-growing European political forces,” the Russian president stated.
Le Pen, who is in Moscow at the invitation of Russian lawmakers, visited an exhibition about Louis IX of France and relics of Sainte-Chapelle in the Patriarch’s Palace of the Kremlin.