Is it a case of action speaking louder than words?
Russian President Vladimir Putin received French-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in Kremlin that observers think was a " surprise move". Putin told Le Pen that Russia is not interested in influencing the French elections which will start next month. The meeting between the two leaders may send a different signal altogether.
Le Pen was invited to travel to Moscow by an MP for meetings in the Russian parliament. Meeting Putin was not on Le Pen's schedule. After the parliamentary meetings, however, Le Pen appeared in televised pictures with Putin from inside the Kremlin.
Putin insisted that meeting Le Pen was just as ordinary as other leaders' wish with different political forces. He said that it would be interesting, though, for the two of them to share opinions on their bilateral relations, and about the situation that is developing in Europe. Putin said he was aware that Le Pen represent a European political force that is growing quickly.
After the meeting, Le Pen told the media that Putin represented a sovereign nation and a new vision. The Front National Leader also said that a new world has emerged in the past years. She mentioned "Putin's world”, " Donald Trump's world" in the U.S. and "Modi's world" in India. Le Pen declared she shares with the three leaders and their nations a vision of cooperation.
Le Pen has been consistent in expressing her admiration for Putin. She also supported Russian annexation of Crimea, as well as that of lifting EU's sanctions on Russia.
There were rumors that Le Pen received a loan from a Russian bank in 2014, and in exchange she is expected to take a pro-Russia, pro-Putin public stance. Le Pen denied such claims. She admitted, though, that her party had to take loans from foreign banks because French financial institutions have refused to fund her presidential bid.
Le Pen also took her trip as an opportunity to call for Russia and France to work together to save the world from globalization and Islamic fundamentalism, two of her biggest campaign issues.