Europe’s anti-immigration leaders push for a bloc to counter France, Germany

The movements and parties which Russia has supported had some differences among them, but they all shared at least five tenets:

·  Hostility toward liberal, pluralist democracy and unease with free-market economics

·  Anti-immigration agenda and anti-Muslim attitudes

·  Deep antagonism toward international institutions such as NATO, the EU, the WTO, the IMF – institutions which the United States helped create and lead after the Second World War in order to contain the Soviet Union and create an era of peace and prosperity for Western- style liberal democracies

·  Opposition to the rule-based international order, of which the United States was the major architect in the years which followed the Second World War – and the collapse of the Soviet Union forty-five years later

·  Support of Russia’s main foreign policy goals, and, even more, an open admiration of Vladimir Putin’s strong-man style of governing


The most impressive successes of the Kremlin’s disciplined and sustained disinformation and hacking campaigns have been the victories of Donald Trump in the United States and Beppe Grillo and his Five Star movement in Italy (following the December 2017 elections, the Five Star party has formed a governing coalition with another recipient of Russia’s campaign assistance – Matteo Slavini’s Northern League).

Even in countries where the Kremlin’s assistance did not bring the Kremlin’s favorite candidates or parties to power, the candidates and parties which the Kremlin supported saw an increase in their power, as measured by the number of seats they gained in their countries’ parliaments. Among the beneficiaries of Putin’s campaign assistance: Marine Le Pen and her National Front in France (the party has recently changed its name from Front National [FN] to Rassemblement National, or RN); Geert Wilders and his Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands; the Austrian Party for Freedom (FPÖ), the Norwegian Progress Party (FrP), the Sweden Democrats (SD), the Alternative für Deutschalnd (AfD) in Germany; the Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, and the openly anti-Semitic Jobbik in Hungary (the Kremlin’s growing closeness to Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party, however, saw Russia distancing itself from Jobik)..

The one exception to the anti-American, pro-Russian tendencies all the other populist, ethno-nationalist parties and movements represent is the Polish Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has been in power in Warsaw since 2015 (and which was not on the Kremlin’s list of campaign assistance). The PiS is as anti-immigration and anti-Muslim as the other Kremlin-supported movements – and, along with Orban’s government in Hungary, not shy about displaying its authoritarian leanings — but it is pro-NATO, pro-U.S., and vehemently anti-Russia.

While Salvini on Wednesday said he and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s ruling party leader, agreed on most issues, Polish officials appeared to have some reservations at the prospect of forming an alliance with Salvini, who is seen in Poland as too friendly to Russia and too supportive of Putin’s policies.

Polish lawmaker Witold Waszczykowski, a former foreign minister, told AP: “the only arrangements that have been made concern further meetings and further consultations, but there are no arrangements for a deal, a creation in advance of alliances or common clubs in the European Parliament.”

A leading commentator for the Rzeczpospolita daily newspaper, Michal Szuldrzynski, said he believed Salvini heard more about what divides Italy’s League and Poland’s Law and Justice party than what unites them during his visit.

Kaczynski showed that he doesn’t want to be a part of a Euro-skeptic alliance under the patronage of the Kremlin,” Szuldrzynski wrote in Thursday’s paper.