8th Dec 2022

War puts Russian ties with EU radical parties on the spot

  • MEPS have accused far-right populist parties of serving Putin's objectives to undermine EU democracy — either for money or political gains (Photo: European Parliament)
Listen to article

The war in Ukraine has turned attention to the long-standing ties between some European political parties and the Russian government.

"This is the right time to reflect on whether we have not been too naive vis-à-vis [Russian president Vladimir] Putin and the Russian regime. I believe we have been naive," the EU commissioner for transparency and values Věra Jourová told MEPs on Wednesday (6 April) during the plenary debate.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Matteo Salvini’s League party was also condemned by MEPs for openly promoting his ties with the Kremlin back in 2017 (Photo: Twitter)

The Kremlin, Jourová said, has been preparing the ground with disinformation campaigns since 2014 when Moscow annexed Crimea and recognised Russian-backed separatist-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Putin has supported extremist groups encouraging them with propaganda which leads to "polarisation" and "division in European societies," she added.

But Russian disinformation has been underestimated, Jourová said. "We didn't fight it, we didn't do anything."

EU lawmakers have accused far-right and populist political parties of serving Putin's objective to undermine EU democracy — either for money or political gains. These include Italy's League, Germany's Alternative for Germany, Austria's Freedom Party, Hungary's Fidesz and the French National Front party whose candidate, Marine Le Pen, is currently one of the frontrunners in the French presidential race.

"The European extreme right has found in Putin its leader and moral and financial support," French socialist MEP Raphaël Glucksmann said.

Echoing the same message, liberal French MEP Nathalie Loiseau accused the far-right of promoting Russian propaganda and endorsing it.

"The extreme right in Europe says it's patriotic but the problem is the nation that they are defending is the Russia of Putin," she said.

Loiseau slammed Le Pen for accepting loans worth €11m from Russian banks for its election campaign back in 2014 — and saying that Putin could become an "ally" of France again after the war in Ukraine.

Matteo Salvini's League party was also condemned by MEPs for openly promoting his ties with the Kremlin back in 2017 when he was wearing a T-shirt with Putin's face during a visit to Moscow.

But Italian MEP Marco Dreosto said the League party's position is clearly "in the West'' with the Trans-Atlantic Union.

Meanwhile, some MEPs argued that not only far-right political parties are friends with Putin.

"Who is doing more harm? Those who stupidly wear a T-shirt… or [those who make] investments in North Stream?" said conservative lawmaker Ryszard Czarnecki, referring to Germany.

In the wake of the war in Ukraine, Germany froze the certification of the controversial gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. Nevertheless, gas flows continue via Nord Stream 1, a pipeline running from Russia to Germany.

Germany has been leading the opposition against cutting gas supplies from Russia, arguing that such a measure could trigger significant disruptions for the largest economy of the EU.

Spanish MEP Javier Zarzalejos, for his part, warned that Putin has also found sympathy amongst European radical left and separatist movements.

Leftist Irish MEP Clare Daly said on Wednesday that EU attempts to replace Russian gas with "filthy fracked US gas" made her "sick".


EU, wake up! Don't leave West Balkans to Russia or China

Russia's attack on Ukraine and European values must remind us how important the enlargement process is, if properly conducted, as a motor for democracy, freedom, peace, the rule of law and prosperity, write six S&D MEPs.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.


No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU

The European Commission has asked the member states' leaders assembling in Brussels next week for the customary end-of-year European Council to approve EU candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Doing so would be a mistake.


Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout

Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, is currently drawing a pension from a European Parliament fund that is some €400m in debt and may require a taxpayer bailout at a time of rising inflation and high energy costs.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. EU lets Croatia into Schengen, keeps Bulgaria and Romania out
  2. Energy crisis costs thousands of EU jobs, but industrial output stable
  3. Illegal pushbacks happening daily in Croatia, says NGO
  4. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  5. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  6. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents
  7. The military-industrial complex cashing-in on the Ukraine war
  8. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us