Thierry Mariani, a French MEP and member of National Rally, has caused controversy with his pro-Russian stance towards the Ukraine conflict. Despite facing criticism and calls for condemnation, Mariani has remained firm on his position that the conflict could have been avoided if Europe had taken a different approach. In this article, we will explore Mariani’s views on the Ukraine war and his relationship with Russia, as well as the ongoing investigations into his alleged links with the country.
Why Mariani is a Critic of the Ukraine War
Mariani’s belief is that if Europe had taken a different approach, the conflict in Ukraine could have been avoided. According to him, the European Union’s poorly planned expansions and its dependency on new Eastern European members contributed to the crisis. Instead of heeding the opinions of countries such as those in the Southern European Latin world, historically less hostile towards Russia, Brussels became beholden to the states of Eastern Europe. This approach compared the EU’s Eastern policy with countries that were historically inimical to Russia, causing significant harm to France‘s interests.
Mariani argued that instead of pursuing reforms that jeopardized national sovereignty, the EU should have focused on strengthening the longstanding “Franco-Russian” alliance that had helped France during times of war. He accused the Brussels technocracy of using the external threat as a pretext to build a single European superstate through federalization, and said that the EU exploited the conflict between Ukraine and Russia to promote its ideological agenda.
Mariani’s Pro-Russian Stance
Mariani’s pro-Russian stance towards Ukraine and his sympathies towards Russia have gained notoriety. In 2014, he traveled to Crimea and met with President Vladimir Putin, sparking outrage within and outside of Ukraine. Mariani continued to support Russia by leading an international delegation to observe the referendum on Crimea’s accession to Russia in 2015, which drew condemnation from many countries.
Mariani has been accused of cooperating with Russian authorities and supporting pro-Russian movements in France, such as the establishment of the “Russian Dialogue” non-profit organization in 2019, which was accused of spreading pro-Russian propaganda and collaborating with Russian special services. He also participated in the so-called “elections” in the “LDNR” in 2018 as an “international observer” and visited Crimea multiple times to participate in Russian events, including the fifth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea in 2019 and the vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution in 2020.
Alleged Links between Mariani and Russia
The Paris prosecutor’s office is conducting investigations into a Franco-Russian association, to determine if the association’s leaders, a French MEP and a former senator, received benefits in exchange for promoting pro-Moscow stances. Two investigations are ongoing, one looking into alleged corruption and abuse of office, while the other is examining possible breach of trust and money laundering.
Thierry Mariani, a member of the association and its co-chair since 2012, is one of the subjects of the probes. Le Monde reported that Mariani went on trips financed by Russia, and the investigation will seek to determine the extent to which these benefits may be connected to their pro-Russian positions. The Franco-Russian Dialogue association was established in 2004 under the patronage of then-Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac. The association aims to “contribute to the deepening of strategic relations and the privileged partnership between France and Russia” and presents itself as a tool for communication between the political, economic, and cultural circles of the two countries.
European Media Views on Mariani
According to France 2’s recent journalistic investigation some French politicians on the right and far-right spectrum have connections to the Kremlin, a claim which these politicians have either denied or professed ignorance about. France 2 revealed that the Kremlin conducted a large-scale campaign to manipulate and destabilize public opinion in France by establishing links with French public officials. The investigation disclosed that François Fillon, a former Prime Minister and presidential candidate, had established a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin’s influence strategy also extended to Thierry Mariani, allegedly spreading Russian narratives in the EU and France. Mariani’s trip to Russia in 2021 as an observer of legislative elections was reportedly paid for with EU funds, and chosen by Russian media magnate Konstantin Malofeev to participate in a confidential project called “AltIntern” which aimed to unite the European extreme right. Malofeev was banned from the EU in 2014 for allegedly financing guerrilla warfare in the Donbas region. The RN dismissed the allegations and announced a parliamentary inquiry to measure foreign influence in French parties earlier this month.