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I was reading this article about Marine Le Pen stating that

[Ms. Le Pen] vows to... strengthen ties Vladmir Putin's Russia.

  1. What is so significant about strengthening ties with Russia, and why Vladmir Putin's Russia?

  2. I also recall news making the headlines on Trump desiring a pro Russian American relationship. Is this something similar?

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    Why Vladimir Putin's Russia is an easy one... currently there is no other Russia to chose from. "Vladimir Putin's Russia" is just a figure of speech that reminds that nowadays relations with Russia means relations with Vladimir Putin and his government(in the same way that "relations with Germany" means relations with Angela Merkel and her government). – SJuan76 Apr 24 '17 at 8:12
  • Basically it's another "the enemy of my enemy" case. The Front National is against the EU, Schengen and the Eurozone, and Russia just happens to be a major power against those things, therefore they have similar interests. I can't think of anything else really. – Bregalad Apr 24 '17 at 12:52
  • The question is, what are the realistic non-moralistic downsides to a good relationship to a major nuclear-armed world power? – user4012 Apr 24 '17 at 15:59
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    @SJuan76: Not only this. Putin is seen in France as a homophobic, anti-feminist, islamophobic ultra-nationalist. Le Pen would be very happy if she could treat the Femen as he did with the Pussy Riots, or deal with terrorists and muslim integrists, as he did with Chechnyans... – Taladris Apr 25 '17 at 0:00
  • @Taladris I am not saying that there are no issues with Putin, what I am saying is just that, nowadays and in the article context, Russia and Vladmir Putin's Russia both mean the government of Russia. The OP seemed to have trouble with the second expression and seemed to think that it was meaning something more than just that. – SJuan76 Apr 25 '17 at 6:21
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There would be several benefits :

  • the exports towards Russia suffered badly because of the sanctions, so lifting the sanction bilateraly would help the French economy, and especially the agricultural sector. See this pdf (please note that many people in the agricultural sector in France vote for Le Pen, so announcing she will lift the sanctions will gain her more votes).

  • Europe in general needs an access to Russian resources, especially gas. It is really damaging for Europe to let the cheap gas go instead to China, and France has nothing to gain from helping the USA and Germany in their political war against Russia. See this : with the EU sanctions, we literally pushed Russia toward China, and China benefits greatly while our economies suffer.

  • the French defense industry took a big hit as well as France had sold two Mistrals to Russia before the sanctions, and got pushed into cancelling the deal by the USA. France lost billions of euros because of that alone, see this (Russia may stop buying more French military tech, and they already started producing their own Mistral copies).

  • since De Gaulle, and until Sarkozy, there was the doctrine that France should align neither with the USA nor with Russia. The idea is that France has nothing to gain from siding with one against the other, and that it would be more interesting economically as well as politically to have a place on our own in the international stage. She could thus gain votes from people who cannot stand the current situation where France is follows whatever the USA tells it to do.

  • Russia can help resolve the conflicts in Syria, and thus stop the influx of refugees in Europe. In fact without Russia Syria would be completely in ruin by now.

On the other hand, I have trouble finding what would be the downside of having a good relationship with Russia (except angering the USA).

  • It seems pro Americans do not like dissenting, yet sourced and widely accepted, opinions... Why the downvotes? – Shautieh May 12 '17 at 7:05
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    I think it's because of your last paragraph. Most of the answer seems factually correct and gives a reasonable answer to the question, as it lists benefits. However, many people have different reasons for disliking Russia (human rights violations and recent aggressive expansion in Ukraine for example) and seeing someone say they see no downside can be interpreted as denying these things happened, or that they aren't a problem. If you left out that sentence, which is more personal opinion than part of the answer, I think you would get more upvotes. – Grollo May 12 '17 at 9:00
  • @Grollo There are really good reasons to dislike Russia, but those reasons won't make France stronger, economically or politically. Losing mutually beneficial trades is not good, and the countries which will benefit from a weak Russia are mainly the USA and Germany, not France. I'll think about it more to decide whether the last paragraph should be left out or not.. – Shautieh May 12 '17 at 9:32
  • @Grollo If the US want to dislike Russia, they're free to do so. However, it would be nice if they wouldn't drag us in Europe into it. There are just as many reasons to dislike USA as there are to dislike Russia. Iraq, Libya, Syria, police brutality against afroamericans, the death penalty, stunning illiteracy rate, horrible income inequality, climate change denier-in-chief, medieval health care system, unchecked military-industrial complex. How about the leader of the free world leads by example and first fixes its own problems? And after that they can help Mexico defeat the cartels... – Ondrej May 12 '17 at 19:56
  • @Ondrej I totally agree. And about the Mexican cartels, they will simply cease to exist on the day the USA stops to import so much drugs for its youths. The War on Drugs is mostly a cynical joke. – Shautieh May 13 '17 at 4:00
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Politicians do not always present opinions which are their own. They try to present opinions and policies which may attract votes, and sometimes use controversial stances on certain issues as a way of gaining visibility (if you want votes, the voters have to know you exist and are different from your opponents). So:

  1. It's not about what Le Pen thinks, it's about her presenting policies which may attract votes. Maybe she really believes in the need to improve Franco-Russian relations, but that is not important. Part of the French public wants to abandon the economic sanctions against Russia, since the Russian counter-sanctions are hurting some sectors of French economy. Another part of the French public wants to decrease the risk of possible military confrontation with Russia. Yet another part of the French public doesn't like US interventionism (blames it for the current European refugee crisis) and, in light of the evolution of the Syrian conflict, sees Russia as a natural counter to it. Le Pen decided to offer these voters what they want (apart from other things like the destruction of EU and islamophobia).

  2. Yes, Trump's offer was in some ways similar, though he didn't talk much about the sanctions - US-Russian trade is miniscule compared to EU-Russian trade - and concentrated on what the US public fears post 9/11 - international terrorism. He argued that by cooperating with Russia, US would be able to more effectively fight ISIS and other terrorist groups, which would lead to decreased threat of terrorist attacks on US soil. The possibility of military confrontation with Russia is also a significant issue for US voters, if they don't know anything else about Russia, they know it's got nukes. Also, the currently trending russophobia is seen by some as dangerous to US democracy.

  • What's wrong with the US interventionism, and why are they blaming US for the refugee crisis? – CL. May 9 '17 at 21:01
  • @CWL it is seen by many, inside the US and especially outside, as often counterproductive. For example the 2003 Iraq invasion is now considered by most knowledgeable people even in US military to have been a terrible mistake. It was based on false premises (lies) and showed stunning lack of insight into Middle East politics. – Ondrej May 10 '17 at 5:26
  • @CWL second part of your question: because of this. Since 2013 we all have learned that the rebels who received US arms and money are not the solution and it is seen in Europe as another US overreach abroad. – Ondrej May 10 '17 at 5:32
  • @CWL the bottom line is that US politicians often fail to understand what they mess with and even if they have good intentions (which is seriously doubted here in EU), they may do more harm than good in the end. – Ondrej May 10 '17 at 5:38
  • @CWL what's wrong about the USA overthrowing democratic governments with pro US dictators all over the world since the 50s? Or about the more recent countless wars in the Middle East that always leave those countries in worse political state when the US armies go away? The USA has trained and armed the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets, and then went to war against them. They armed Saddam against Iran, and then went to destroy Irak. Etc. As for the refugee crisis, there would be no crisis if the USA didn't want to overthrow Assad since 2012 and didn't reduce Lybia to ruins in 2011. – Shautieh May 11 '17 at 6:47

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