We’ve long been covering Vladimir Putin’s cozying up to Europe far-right parties, most recently noting an egregiously generous loan that France’s National Front had received from a Russian bank allied with the Kremlin. NPR has a story that adds some color to the deepening Russo-NF relationship:
Last month at a meeting of the far-right National Front in the French city of Lyon there was a special guest: Andrey Isayev, a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political party.The apparent contradiction of political philosophies didn’t seem to dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm for Isayev’s message: Long live Franco-Russian friendship and down with the European Union! Isayev called the EU a “spineless lackey of the United States.”
And a bit further down, some seasonal flair:
In keeping with tradition, there’s a giant Christmas tree outside of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. But for the first time, the tree wasn’t purchased by local businesses and parishioners. This year it was a gift from the Russian government. A Russian diplomat called it a symbol of unity between Christian peoples. Some Parisians were outraged.Others, like Michel Onre, shrugged it off.“We all know Putin is aligning with the far right because he wants to divide and weaken Europe,” he says. Onre says he hates that. But, he asks, “Is there really any harm in Putin buying France a Christmas tree?”
Perhaps not, Mr. Onre. But Europeans and Americans alike should never forget exactly which parties ultimately benefit from a failed European project.