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French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says NATO should become greater ALLIES with Russia

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says NATO should become greater ALLIES with Russia

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has called for closer relations between NATO and Russia as the French presidental elections go down to the wire.

Le Pen, who faces President Emmanuel Macron in a run-off to be president of France on April 24, said there should be a ‘strategic rapprochement’ between NATO and Russia once the bloody war in Ukraine has come to a close. 

The news conference took place against the backdrop of furious protestors outside who branded her ‘Putin’s accomplice’.

A protester even got past security to brandish a heart-shaped picture of Le Pen and Russian President Vladimir Putin, before she was quickly dragged out by security guards. 

Le Pen (above) said there should be a 'strategic rapprochement' between NATO and Russia once the bloody war in Ukraine has come to a close

Le Pen (above) said there should be a ‘strategic rapprochement’ between NATO and Russia once the bloody war in Ukraine has come to a close

Le Pen emphasised that better ties with Russia would also prevent Moscow from becoming too close to China, noting that she was echoing an argument made by Macron in the past

Le Pen emphasised that better ties with Russia would also prevent Moscow from becoming too close to China, noting that she was echoing an argument made by Macron in the past

The news conference took place against the backdrop of furious protestors outside who branded her ¿Putin's accomplice¿

The news conference took place against the backdrop of furious protestors outside who branded her ‘Putin’s accomplice’

Activists tried to get into the press conference and one succeeded, brandishing a heart-shaped picture of Le Pen and Russian President Vladimir Putin before she was quickly dragged out by security guards

Activists tried to get into the press conference and one succeeded, brandishing a heart-shaped picture of Le Pen and Russian President Vladimir Putin before she was quickly dragged out by security guards

Marine Le Pen faces President Emmanuel Macron in a run-off to be president of France on April 24

Marine Le Pen faces President Emmanuel Macron in a run-off to be president of France on April 24

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 24, 2017. Le Pen has been accused of doing Putin's bidding in France

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 24, 2017. Le Pen has been accused of doing Putin’s bidding in France

She also added her intention to repeat France’s 1966 move of pulling out of NATO’s military command should she finally win office.

The Gallic country would still adhere to Article 5, which is the key provision on mutual defence.

‘We must ask about the role of the alliance after the end of the Warsaw Pact,’ the Moscow-led military alliance that grouped Soviet bloc nations, she told journalists.  

Le Pen emphasised that better ties with Russia would also prevent Moscow from becoming too close to China, noting that she was echoing an argument made by Macron in the past. 

‘This is in the interest of France and Europe but also I think the United States… which has no interest in seeing a close Sino-Russian relationship emerging,’ Le Pen said.  

Le Pen has been dogged by accusations of being too close with Vladimir Putin, having accepted a loan of around £7.5million from a Russian creditor in 2011, which her party is still paying back. 

Reports in the French press from 2015 based on hacked Kremlin records showed that Ms Le Pen may have lent her support to Putin’s annexation of Crimea in return for the loan – although the allegations of a quid pro quo are very difficult to prove. 

‘You should not be looking at me if you want to find complacency towards Vladimir Putin, or Russian financing,’ Macron told reporters. ‘You should be looking at the other candidates. Don’t forget that.’  

Ms Le Pen’s party National Rally – formerly National Front – also hosted Vladimir Putin in 2017 

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says NATO should become greater ALLIES with Russia

Marine Le Pen has been steadily closing the gap on Macron in French presidential election polls

Le Pen has been dogged by accusations of being too close with Vladimir Putin, having accepted a loan of around £7.5million from a Russian creditor in 2011 which her party is still paying back.

Le Pen has been dogged by accusations of being too close with Vladimir Putin, having accepted a loan of around £7.5million from a Russian creditor in 2011 which her party is still paying back. 

Reports in the French press from 2015 based on hacked Kremlin records showed that Ms Le Pen may have lent her support to Putin¿s annexation of Crimea in return for the loan ¿ although the allegations of a quid pro quo are very difficult to prove

Reports in the French press from 2015 based on hacked Kremlin records showed that Ms Le Pen may have lent her support to Putin’s annexation of Crimea in return for the loan – although the allegations of a quid pro quo are very difficult to prove 

French President Emmanuel Macron makes a speech during a campaign meeting in the Grand-Est region of Strasbourg, France on April 12, 2022. 'You should not be looking at me if you want to find complacency towards Vladimir Putin, or Russian financing,' Macron told reporters. 'You should be looking at the other candidates. Don't forget that.'

French President Emmanuel Macron makes a speech during a campaign meeting in the Grand-Est region of Strasbourg, France on April 12, 2022. ‘You should not be looking at me if you want to find complacency towards Vladimir Putin, or Russian financing,’ Macron told reporters. ‘You should be looking at the other candidates. Don’t forget that.’

French President Emmanuel Macron, candidate for his re-election in the 2022 French presidential election, talks to residents as French Junior Minister for Economic Inclusion Brigitte Klinkert looks on during a campaign visit in Chatenois, near Strasbourg, France, April 12, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron, candidate for his re-election in the 2022 French presidential election, talks to residents as French Junior Minister for Economic Inclusion Brigitte Klinkert looks on during a campaign visit in Chatenois, near Strasbourg, France, April 12, 2022

She also reaffirmed her intention to repeat France’s 1966 move of leaving NATO’s integrated military command, while still adhering to its key article 5 on mutual protection. 

‘I would place our troops neither under an integrated NATO command nor under a future European command,’ she said, adding that she refused any ‘subjection to an American protectorate’. 

However, she made clear that a ‘Frexit’ along the lines of Britain’s ‘Brexit’, pulling France out of the European Union was not part of her agenda, reversing previous policy. 

But she argued that French predictions that Brexit would prove ‘a cataclysm for the English’ had not come true.

‘The British got rid of the Brussels bureaucracy, which they could never bear, to move to an ambitious project of global Britain,’ she said.

But she added: ‘This is not our project. We want to reform the EU from the inside.’

Chief rival Emmanual Macron had accused Le Pen of having a secret ‘Frexit’ plan to create a right-wing alliance with Poland and Hungary.

‘She wants to leave but dare not dare say so, and that’s never good’ said Mr Macron, as he discussed his bitter rival’s policies towards the EU at a rally in eastern France.

‘She says that she wants an alliance of nation states, but she is going to find herself in a corner and she is going to try to come up with an alliance with her friends.’

Mr Macron said French voters were too loyal to Europe to accept a ‘Frexit’, and so Ms Le Pen would attack the bloc from within after teaming up with the populist governments ‘in Poland and Hungary’.

‘It would be a strange club,’ said Mr Macron. 

‘I don’t think it is a club that would be good for France. I don’t think it would be good for Europe.’

Mr Macron is a passionate Europhile who once described Brexit as ‘a crime’ delivered by dishonest politicians.

‘The EU has changed the life of this country,’ said Mr Macron, as he directly accused Ms Le Pen of ‘talking rubbish’ about it.

The blue-collar battleground: Macron will start his campaign for the second round visiting former mining heartlands in Le Pen's industrial heartlands of northern France

The blue-collar battleground: Macron will start his campaign for the second round visiting former mining heartlands in Le Pen’s industrial heartlands of northern France

Marcon, head of the La Republique en Marche party, has also been reaching out to disenfranchised workers, pictured here on a construction site during a one-day campaign visit in Hauts-de-France region

Marcon, head of the La Republique en Marche party, has also been reaching out to disenfranchised workers, pictured here on a construction site during a one-day campaign visit in Hauts-de-France region

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says NATO should become greater ALLIES with Russia

Marine Le Pen narrowly nudged ahead of Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round of voting

Macron is right to be worried, according to opinion poll published by Les Echos and Radio Classique on Tuesday.

They showed Le Pen narrowing the gap by one point as voter turnout continued to fall, although Macron would still win the run-off with 54 per cent of the vote. 

The poll’s turnout estimate further declined by 1 per cent to 70 per cent, down from 74.56 per cent in 2017, which was already the lowest since 1969. 

Both remaining candidates in the run-off on April 24 will compete to snap up the votes of left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who with 22% of the popular vote was only narrowly squeezed out by Le Pen into third place.

‘Those who did not vote for Macron are destined to join me, I count on all French voters,’ said Marine Le Pen, according to Le Parisien.

‘We are very close, I can win this presidential election,’ she said.

Throughout the campaign, Le Pen has been visiting markets in towns and villages to meet with working class voters where the gilets jaunes protests were sparked, pushing the narrative that Macron has divided France and she is the one to unite it.

While many of the losing candidates told their supporters not to back Le Pen in the second round, including far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, her populist message focusing on the cost of living crisis is resonating across the political spectrum.

She said she is no longer the ‘big, bad wolf’ of politics, and has been positioning herself as a unifying and benign figure, posing for selfies with a teenager in a headscarf and sharing photos of her pet Bengal cats.

An Ifop survey in March showed that fewer than half of all French now found her ‘scary’.

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