Jordan Bardella, president of France’s National Rally (RN) and Member of the European Parliament (MEP), has recently made headlines for his soft stance towards Russia in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Bardella has been a prominent figure in France’s political scene for years, serving in various positions within RN and as a regional councilor of Île-de-France. As a political leader with numerous ties to Russia, Bardella’s stance on the Ukraine-Russia conflict is crucial in understanding France’s approach to the situation.
Recognizing “Collective Naivety” towards Putin before the Invasion
In a recent interview, Bardella noted that he witnessed the rise of Vladimir Putin to power at the age of five. He acknowledged that the reality has come knocking at their doors and that it is clear that the Putin of five years ago is not the same as the one who decided to invade Ukraine and commit war crimes. Bardella declared that there can be no resolution to the conflict without the withdrawal of Russian troops and the full restoration of Ukraine‘s sovereignty. As a patriot and sovereigntist, Bardella believes it is crucial to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and being indifferent to the violation of a European state’s sovereignty is incompatible with these beliefs.
Bardella’s Support for Volodymyr Zelensky
During Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s speech to the European Parliament on February 10, Bardella showed support for Ukraine by standing and applauding at the end. However, Bardella has not called for the massive delivery of weapons as demanded by Zelensky. Instead, he prefers to provide anti-aircraft defense systems and armored vehicles. Bardella fears that if Ukraine were to use missiles that could hit Rostov or Sebastopol, it would lead to escalation. It is worth noting that some Frontist deputies were hesitant about supporting Ukraine before finally attending the speech.
Bardella’s Views on Russia
In September 2022, Bardella, the interim president of RN, commented on Russia’s plan to hold referendums in the territories it controls in Ukraine. He believes that Russia is exploiting the tool of a referendum, which is a popular expression, to legitimize the violation of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty. Bardella cites the examples of bombed maternity hospitals and civilians being killed in the ongoing war, saying that these referendums would be illegitimate.
Bardella also talked about the EU’s energy sanctions against Russia, saying that RN has always been opposed to them, and time has proven them right since these sanctions have only strengthened Russia. He accuses the EU of hypocrisy, saying that they sanction Putin’s regime but continue to buy oil from Russia via other countries. According to him, Russia has increased its hydrocarbon income by 41%, while its trade surpluses have doubled, leading to inflation in France and other EU countries. He acknowledges that some sanctions, such as those on semiconductors, banking, or Russian oligarchs, work.
Implications for France’s Approach to the Conflict
Bardella’s stance on the Ukraine-Russia conflict reflects a broader divide within French politics. On one hand, there are those who advocate for a tougher stance against Russia, such as President Emmanuel Macron, who has called for an immediate ceasefire and has been a vocal critic of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. On the other hand, there are those, such as Bardella and his party, who have historical ties to Russia and advocate for a more diplomatic approach.
While Bardella has expressed his support for Ukraine and its sovereignty, he has not called for the massive delivery of weapons as demanded by Zelensky. Instead, he prefers to provide anti-aircraft defense systems and armored vehicles. This stance reflects his belief that escalation must be avoided at all costs.