The Stakes for Putin are High in the French Election

France is the latest western power to hold an election that might reshape Europe and the western alliance.

First was Brexit that pulled the UK out of the EU (though not out of NATO). Then Donald Trump was elected president in the US. We need to say anything other than mention the slew of investigations about Russian influence in the elections. And now we have the French presidential election.

Here is the thing — two candidates are very friendly to Putin

Marine Le Pen — who has said she admires Putin and thinks sanctions on Russia are “completely stupid” — traveled to Moscow in late March to meet with the Russian president. Francois Fillon, who developed a close relationship with Putin between 2008-2012, is a tireless defender of Kremlin policies: He has sought to justify Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine, demanded that the US lift its Crimea-related sanctions, and has advocated for France to realign with Russia, Iran, and Syrian president Bashar Assad to fight terrorism.

If either of these candidates is elected, Europe will be altered profoundly. It would not take too much imagination to envision Putin trying to tip the scales. Here is the NYT blurb

The presidential election on Sunday is one of the most consequential in recent times — not just for France, but for Europe — and one of the most unpredictable, too.

Hold on to your hat. We will not know how this shakes out for a few weeks.

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