Le Pen Backs NATO-Russia Reconciliation and Reduced French Role in Alliance

PARIS — Rejecting a “herd agreement” with the Biden administration, Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate, said Wednesday that France would give up NATO’s integrated military command if elected and seek the alliance “un strategic rapprochement” with Russia.

As Russia’s war in Ukraine rages on, Ms. Le Pen effectively signaled that her election would end or at least disrupt President Biden’s united alliance to confront President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and perhaps drive a wedge in Western Europe for Mr. Putin to exploit.

Despising multilateralism, criticizing Germany, criticizing the European Union, relegating climate issues to a low priority, attacking “globalists” and remaining almost silent on Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine, Ms. Le Pen gave a a display of a worldview that was both reminiscent of the Trump presidency and seemed to directly threaten NATO’s attempts to arm Ukraine and defeat Russia.

A lurch to the far right by France, a nuclear power and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, would realign the world, with unpredictable and disturbing consequences.

In a wide-ranging 75-minute press conference devoted to international relations, and apparently designed to bolster her credentials on the world stage, Ms. Le Pen said that France would remain in NATO and respect its core Article 5, which says that a attacking one member of the alliance is an attack on all.

But, he added, “it would not place our troops under an integrated NATO command or under a European command.”

His position, he said, was “not to submit to an American protectorate exercised on European soil under NATO cover,” a stance he likened to that taken by General Charles de Gaulle in 1966, when he pulled France out of NATO’s integrated military. . command, where he remained until 2009.

His position, he said, did not indicate “submission to Moscow.” But his promise to remove France from command was consistent with the great-power “equidistance” policy he said he would follow if he defeated incumbent President Emmanuel Macron in a runoff for the French presidency on April 24.

Polls show Macron with 53 to 55 percent of the vote, ahead of Le Pen with 45 to 47 percent. But the political situation is volatile as the president, running around the country, struggles to make up for a lackluster opening campaign. The French nationalist far right is closer to power than at any time since World War II.

The proposed rapprochement with Russia, “once the Russo-Ukrainian war is over and resolved by a peace treaty,” would even be in the interest of the United States, Le Pen suggested, because Washington would not benefit from “close company.” Russian-Chinese union.

Ms. Le Pen, leader of the National Rally, formerly the National Front, a fiercely anti-immigrant party, dismissed the Biden administration as “too aggressive toward Beijing,” saying the United States “needs enemies to unite its allies under its thumb.” domination.”

It was one of the few references to America, none of them positive, as Ms Le Pen embarked on a kind of world tour of her concerns that also omitted Russia but included a lengthy exegesis of why France has solemn obligations in Lebanon. .

“France is not France without greatness,” he declared.

Nor is France without protests. The press conference was briefly interrupted by a protester carrying a heart-shaped picture of Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Putin. The protester was thrown to the ground and dragged by security guards.

Ms. Le Pen said that the “non-aligned” France she envisioned would “threaten the enemies of the Western camp in a more effective way because the country would no longer follow an alignment with the United States and thus cause a greater deterrent concern in calculations. of all adversaries.”

Macron has attacked Le Pen for trying to destroy the European Union and compared the April 24 vote to a referendum on Europe. Nationalism, he said Tuesday in Strasbourg, leads to “an alliance of nations that want to wage war.”

Ms Le Pen said a British-style exit from the European Union was not in her plans, but that she was in favor of a “European alliance of nations”, rejecting Macron’s frequent references to “European sovereignty” and the “European strategic autonomy”. In practice, she favors a series of measures, including favoring the French over EU citizens for jobs and housing, designed to undermine the 27-member union.

The same goal seemed to be behind his diatribe against Germany, France’s most important partner in building a united Europe. The Franco-German friendship has stood at the heart of post-war Europe, the symbol of the continent’s recovery from the devastation of two world wars.

Ms. Le Pen declared that France and Germany faced “irreconcilable strategic differences”.

She said that she would stop all cooperation with Germany in the development of new military equipment to carry out national programs. She denounced the “discreet and clever hegemony over Europe” orchestrated by Angela Merkel, the former German chancellor. She suggested that Germany has embarked on a surreptitious plan to subvert France’s centralized model with a German federal model or even the creation of “large border regions”.

Germany would not be allowed to “destroy the French nuclear industry”, Ms Le Pen promised. She insisted that Germany’s interests diverged from France’s in that Germany “considers NATO as the natural pillar of its security, yesterday and today, which leads it to buy the United States.”

To drive home her point, Ms Le Pen said: “Germany thus represents the polar opposite of France’s strategic identity.” However, she said, “I want to stress that I have no hostility towards the German nation.”

The general message was clear enough. Scorning Franco-German, hostile or suspicious cooperation towards the United States and NATO, seeking a rapprochement with Russia and a softer approach towards China, Ms. Le Pen would lead France in a direction that, for the Biden administration, would put the It severely tests one of America’s oldest wartime alliances in Europe.

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