French President Emmanuel Macron attacked his far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Wednesday over her ties to Russia during a televised presidential debate, accusing her of being “dependent” on the Kremlin.
“You depend on the Russian government and you depend on Mr Putin,” Macron said, referring to a loan Le Pen’s party had agreed with a Czech-Russian bank that he said was “close to the Russian government.” was standing”.
Le Pen replied that she was “an absolutely and completely free woman” and said the loan was a “matter of public knowledge”.
“It was because no French bank would give me a loan,” she replied.
The exchange was the first major clash between the two, with Macron also highlighting Le Pen’s decision to recognize Crimea as Russian after the Ukrainian territory was annexed by the Kremlin in 2014.
“Under international law, we rarely recognize… areas that have been forcibly annexed,” he said.
Le Pen stressed that she supported all the sanctions against Moscow announced since Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered Ukraine to invade Ukraine on February 24, and she supported the supply of arms to Ukraine.
“The aggression Ukraine has been subjected to was unacceptable,” she said.
Le Pen made waves last week when she proposed closer ties between the Western military alliance NATO and Russia once the war in Ukraine was over.
She also reaffirmed her intention to repeat the 1966 French move to leave NATO’s integrated military command, while adhering to the key Article 5 on mutual protection.
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