French far-right party leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday after meeting President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin that she would consider what she had to do to swiftly lift European Union sanctions imposed on Russian Federation over the Ukraine crisis if elected.
Mr Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told a press conference the visit had nothing to with fundraising for Le Pen's French presidential candidacy.
Mr Putin added that Ms Le Pen - a nationalist, Eurosceptic candidate with hardline stances on immigration and radical Islam - represents a "European political force that is quickly growing".
"I have long advocated that Russian Federation and France should restore cultural, economic and strategic ties, especially at the moment when a serious terrorist threat looms over us", Le Pen said at the meeting. Since 2011, Le Pen has visited Russian Federation four times, including one visit to the annexed region of Crimea. "This is a war crime", she said. Russian Federation and France should unite to fight global terrorism, she added.
But the scandal-tainted Fillon is tanking in polls, while Sarkozy dropped out of the elections, leaving Le Pen as Russia's main potential ally.
After the meeting, Le Pen told reporters that "it's now the world of Putin, the world of Donald Trump", according to The Guardian.
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Le Pen is expected to easily make it to the second round of voting on 7 May, as she is now neck-and-neck in first round voting intentions with centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron. She called for European sanctions to be lifted from Russian Federation, and said Russian Federation and France should share counter-terrorism intelligence information.
She said that she had her "own viewpoint on Ukraine, [which is] identical to Russia's".
"We felt they understood each other, " he said.
Putin's bombing campaign in Syria did target civilians and hospitals in support of its strategic ally, the Syrian regime, in what European Union states and the United Nations have judged as war crimes.
Lavrov said Le Pen was not a "populist" or "marginal" but a "realist or anti-globalist" figure. "A trip to visit the troops...is a traditional thing to build up your commander-in-chief cred", said Martin Michelot, a French election expert at Europeum Research Institute.
Also read: Does Russia need the support of Marine Le Pen? "His foreign policy will be based on this", Kasyanov said.