Far-Right Leader Le Pen Targets Ukraine Support, Criticizes Soccer Star Kylian Mbappe

Le Pen has in the past boasted of her admiration for Putin, refused to condemn Putin's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and even took out a huge loan from a Russian bank

by Sededin Dedovic
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Far-Right Leader Le Pen Targets Ukraine Support, Criticizes Soccer Star Kylian Mbappe
© Sam Tarling / Getty Images

As Ukraine bleeds territory to Russia, it seems that the support of one of Kyiv's strongest backers may weaken if the far-right comes to power in Sunday's French parliamentary elections. Marine Le Pen, a figure from France's far-right National Rally (RN) party, has promised that a prime minister from her party would prevent Kyiv from using long-range weapons supplied by France to attack inside Russia and would thwart French President Emmanuel Macron's suggestion that he might send French boots to Ukrainian soil.

"If Emmanuel Macron wants to send troops to Ukraine and the prime minister is against it, then no troops are sent to Ukraine," she told CNN. "The prime minister has the final say." Marine Le Pen gave a broader interview on Thursday to journalist Christiane Amanpour ahead of the second round of Sunday's extraordinary parliamentary elections in France, called by Macron after the National Rally's stunning results in Europe in May.

During the interview, Le Pen also targeted national football attacker Kylian Mbappe. The thrice-failed presidential candidate Le Pen showed herself to be a confident, combative figure, just days away from possibly the greatest political victory of her career.

Polls indicate that the National Rally, as of Monday morning after the first round, had the largest share of the 577 seats in the National Assembly, although they may not achieve an absolute majority, and Macron is likely to offer them the opportunity to choose the country's next prime minister.

French Presidential Candidate Marine Le Pen Holds A Rally Meeting In Marseille© Jeff J Mitchell / getty Images

Le Pen's protege and party leader Jordan Bardella previously said he would accept the premiership only if the National Rally won by a large enough margin.

Even without an RN prime minister, any legislative action in the French parliament will have to navigate around the far-right's center of gravity. If they do have a prime minister, it would create a tense cohabitation with Macron's centrist presidency, especially regarding central policies like France's support for Ukraine's war against Russia.

In addition to blocking potential troop deployments to Ukraine—which Macron cited as a way to increase the effectiveness of military instructors—Le Pen told CNN that Kyiv's permission to use long-range missiles supplied by France in Russia would also be revoked.

Macron was one of the first leaders to publicly allow Ukraine to strike targets inside Russia with Western weapons, paving the way for Washington to do the same. This allowed Kyiv to target Russian military bases, formations, and artillery used to launch attacks on Ukraine.

Le Pen directed most of her ire during the interview closer to home. She lashed out at French soccer star Mbappe, who has recently been voicing criticisms of the far right.

Kylian Mbappe of France celebrates victory after the UEFA EURO 2024 round of 16 match between France and Belgium at Düsseldorf © Carl Recine / Getty Images

Undoubtedly the brightest star in French soccer today, he joined a host of celebrities this week in calling on voters to mobilize to keep the far right out of power.

"There is an emergency. We cannot leave our country in the hands of these people," Mbappe said on Thursday, following the strong result of the National Rally in the first round. "It is truly urgent. I think we have seen the results, it is catastrophic." Speaking last month, earlier at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Germany, the attacker, whose family hails from Algeria and Cameroon, emphasized that he does not want to "represent a country" that does not embody his "values." Le Pen dismissed his comments, dismissing him as unrepresentative.

"French people are tired of being lectured and advised on how to vote," Le Pen told CNN. "Mbappe does not represent French people of immigrant origin, as there are many more who live on minimum wage, who cannot afford housing, and who cannot afford heating, than people like Mr.

Mbappe," she said.

Racism Accusations

If the National Rally wins the elections on Sunday, Le Pen can expect her loyal lieutenant Bardella to be appointed as France's prime minister. She will undoubtedly succeed in bringing her party into the political mainstream.

Having won nearly a third of French votes in the European Parliament elections in May, Le Pen refused to be labeled as a "far-right" politician. "That does not correspond to what we are. And certainly not to what the far-right is in the United States," she claims.

Her party currently supports ending automatic citizenship rights for people born to parents in France and significantly restricting citizenship by naturalization. Additionally, the party proposes limiting foreigners' access to certain social services, including housing, with preferential access for French citizens.

Another promise outlined in the National Rally's manifesto is a law targeting Islamist ideologies, although it does not elaborate on how. Le Pen defended against accusations of racism against some of the hundreds of candidates her party has fielded for the elections. "I think in every political movement, there can be what we call a 'black sheep'," she said.

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