Vladimir Putin’s pro­pa­ganda machine may relent­lessly denounce Ukraine’s author­i­ties as fas­cists and xeno­phobes, but else­where in Europe the Russian leader is ener­get­i­cally courting far-​​right politi­cians as allies in his con­fronta­tion with Western governments.

You can see that the National Front is viewed very favor­ably in Russia,” says Ludovic de Danne, for­eign affairs spokesman for radical-​​right French party. “We are more than tol­er­ated, we are seen as a friend.”

He reels off a list of top Russian offi­cials — headed by Deputy Prime Min­ister Dmitry Rogozin, now under US sanc­tions for his role in the annex­a­tion of Crimea — who lined up to receive National Front leader Marine Le Pen when she vis­ited Moscow last year.

We have a bal­anced posi­tion. We don’t want to be part of any game that pulls us into a new Cold War with Russia,” de Danne said in a tele­phone inter­view from the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Brus­sels. “Our inde­pen­dent stance is appre­ci­ated by those in power in Russia, that’s why we have good con­tacts with them.”

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