Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Wednesday warned against sending more weapons to Ukraine and called for a rapprochement between NATO and Russia once Moscow’s war in Ukraine is over. .
Le Pen, an outspoken nationalist with longstanding ties to Russia, also confirmed that if she overthrows President Emmanuel Macron in France’s April 24 presidential run-off, she would remove France from military command of NATO and would serve as a reminder of French support for the whole of the European Union.
Macron, a pro-EU centrist, faces a tougher-than-expected struggle to stay in power, in part because the economic impact of the war is hitting poor households the hardest. France’s European partners fear a possible Le Pen presidency could undermine Western unity as the United States and Europe seek to back Ukraine and end Russia’s ruinous war against its neighbor .
Asked about military aid to Ukraine, Le Pen said she would continue her support for defense and intelligence.
“(But) I am more reserved on direct arms deliveries. Why? Because… there is a thin line between aid and becoming co-belligerent,” the far-right leader said, citing concerns about an “escalation of this conflict which could bring a large number of countries into military engagement” .
Earlier on Wednesday, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said France had sent 100 million euros ($109 million) worth of weapons to Ukraine in recent weeks as part of a flow of Western weapons.
Earlier in his term, Macron had tried to contact Russian President Vladimir Putin to improve Russia’s relations with the West, and Macron had met with Putin weeks before the Russian invasion in an unsuccessful effort to prevent it. Since then, however, France has supported EU sanctions against Moscow and offered sustained support to Ukraine.
Le Pen also said France should take a path more independent of the US-led NATO military alliance.
And despite the atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, Le Pen said NATO should seek a “strategic rapprochement” with Russia once the war is over. Such a relationship would be “in the interests of France and Europe and I think even the United States”, she said, to prevent Russia from forging a stronger alliance with world power China. .
She did not directly address the horrors unfolding in Ukraine.
Le Pen was speaking at a press conference on Wednesday to outline his foreign policy plans, which include stopping aid to African countries unless they take back ‘unwanted’ migrants seeking to enter France . She also wants to reduce support for international efforts to improve women’s reproductive health in poor countries, increase minority rights or address environmental issues.
At the end of the event, protesters held up a poster showing a 2017 meeting between Le Pen and Putin. One activist was kicked out of the room. Anti-racism protesters also staged a small demonstration outside.
“Electing Madame Le Pen would be tantamount to electing an admirer of the Putin regime, an autocratic regime and an admirer of Putin’s imperialist logic,” said Dominique Sopo, head of the SOS Racisme group. “It would mean that France would become a vassal of Putin’s Russia.”
Follow all AP stories related to the 2022 French presidential election at https://apnews.com/hub/french-election-2022.
Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.