Russia-Ukraine war: the discredit of the European right aligned with Putin

The war in Ukraine has challenged the support network Vladimir Putin has forged in Europe with far-right politicians for years.

This is not surprising because Putin considers himself “conservative”, and partly critical of the Soviet era he lived in the last years of the USSR as a young officer of the KGB, the legendary secret service.

Moreover, from a declared atheist, he has already converted to power to the Orthodox Christian religion during a ceremony presided over by the Patriarch of All Russia, Kirill. His dream is to revive the Russian Empire.

The most important figure on the list is Italian Matteo Salvini, a member of the Rome government and leader of the right-wing League, who in 2018 won 34.6% in the European Parliament elections held in Italy .

From that peak, it has since fallen to the current 18%. Salvini was the right-wing candidate in next year’s Italian general election.

Salvini, in the crosshairs

The slippage he suffered following Putin’s warlike adventure hurt him so much that his own party discreetly asked him not to move and to speak as little as possible.


Salvini, uneasy, when they take out a T-shirt with Putin’s face. (AP)

Salvini was a member of the European Parliament and at the Strasbourg Palace he spoke openly in favor of Putin on several occasions. Once on television, he declared: “I am exchanging a Mattarella for Putin”, a boast directed against the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, today the most respected and beloved figure of Italians.

Salvini’s pro-Putin proclamations abound. The aggression against Ukraine forced him to affirm that he was against the war without criticizing the Russian president and to go to the border with Poland, where a stream of refugees arrives every day.

“I came to help women and boys,” he told reporters. His visit included a meeting with the Polish mayor of Przemys, Woichec Bakum, who received him surrounded by journalists. A video broadcast hundreds of times in Italy showed that when Salvini arrived, the mayor unsheathed a white T-shirt bearing the image of Putin, who realized he had fallen into a trap .

It was the “maglietta” that he knew how to distribute to thousands of people and with which he walked around carrying it in 2017 in Moscow’s Red Square. The mayor did not invite him and Salvini withdrew amid cries of repudiation.

In France, the Putin affair fell like a bomb on the far right, which is divided in the first round of the presidential elections scheduled for April.

Marine Le Pen’s admiration for Putin

National Rally candidate Marine Le Pen, who shares a group with Salvini in the European Parliament, told Russian newspaper Kommersant in 2011 that she admired Putin.

Now he had to condemn the war in Ukraine. On February 24, when the invasion began, Le Pen called for the withdrawal of troops, saying the military operation “breaks the balance of peace in Europe”.

Marine Le Pen, loyal ally of Putin.  (AFP)

Marine Le Pen, loyal ally of Putin. (AFP)

Taking some distance does not make us forget that in 2017 Marine Le Pen was received by Putin when she was the face-to-face candidate of the far-right National Front, founded by her father.

Le Pen now denies his closeness to Putin. “I was one of the few politicians who always sought to maintain an equidistance between the United States and Russia. The newspaper “Liberation” reported that the Lepenists had to destroy a million electoral leaflets which depicted Le Pen with Putin.

Zemmour also bowed to Putin

Eric Zemmour, the other far-right candidate in the French presidential elections – where President Emmanuel Macron is increasingly favored – challenges Le Pen but last December predicted that Russia would never invade Ukraine, denouncing the “American propaganda”. This week he should have condemned the invasion in an act.

The pearl that the French press has discovered is that in 2018, Zemmour declared: “I feel like a French Poutine”. He comes out in favor of an alliance with Russia, which “would be the most reliable ally”.

Italian counter-terrorism services have detected that since 2014, when the war in Ukraine’s Donbass region began, more than sixty extremists have been fighting alongside small far-left groups in Italy for Russian claims. There are also right-wing groups that have taken up arms in support of Ukrainians.

The two main Italian neo-fascist groups are divided. Forza Nuova blames the United States and NATO, the Western alliance, for the conflict.

Pound House, named after the great American poet Ezra Pound, with fascist sympathies, is openly pro-Ukrainian “in defense of foreign imperialism”.

In Belgium, the extreme right of the Nation is on the side of Russia while the ultra-fascists of Bruges have taken the side of Ukraine. In Croatia, extremist groups of organized supporters have sided with Putin, while the ultra-nationalist far-right has sponsored enlistment in the neo-Nazi Ukrainian Azov Battalion, which is fighting in Mariupol.

In France, the Les Nationalistes party, led by Yvan Benedetti, justifies President Putin, while Bordeaux Nationaliste defends Ukraine.

The German Neo-Nazi Right

In Germany, the neo-Nazi alternative right defends Ukrainian President Zelensky with “a Europe that must free itself from Russian and American power”.

In Spain, the Democracia Nacional is mobilizing in favor of Ukraine, while another far-right movement, La Phalange, wonders if Putin is the only culprit.

In the Netherlands, far-right leader Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party vindicated Putin. Wilders himself visited the Russian Duma (Parliament) showing Russian and Dutch benderites.

In 2017, he repeated that “Putin is not an enemy” and denounced “hysterical Russophobia”. Russia “is on our side”. Now his enthusiasm has cooled.

Another very important character is missing. The ultra-conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who in the European Union leads the four sovereignist countries, including Poland. A month ago, he flew to Moscow to meet Putin, an unwelcome gesture in the European Union.

When the Russians began the invasion on February 24, Orbán quickly changed his position: he endorsed European Union sanctions, backed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and traveled to Hungary’s border with Ukraine to welcome the fugitives. “We’ll get everyone in,” he promised.

A big change because Orbán was the sworn enemy of immigrants from Asia and Africa.

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