As Western governments edge toward tougher sanctions on Russia, at least one group of European politicians has come to Moscow’s defense: leaders of the region’s far-right parties.
Marine Le Pen, head of France’s National Front, visited Moscow this month—her second trip there in less than a year—and lambasted the West for declaring a ruinous new “Cold War” on Russia. Her party also sent election observers who validated the results of the referendum in which Russia annexed Crimea. Geert Wilders, who heads the far-right Dutch Freedom Party, has accused the European Union of creating “a big mess” in Ukraine. And Nigel Farage, head of Britain’s UK Independence Party said in an April 1 interview that Vladimir Putin was the world leader he admired most.
Such comments may seem bizarre, considering that Putin has justified intervention in Ukraine by saying he’s protecting Russian speakers from right-wing elements in the new government.