Russia’s tactic in the ongoing conflict with Ukraine is to persuade the Western powers to withhold aid to Kyiv. To do so, the Kremlin spreads propaganda to support pro-Russian political parties by using a network of spies and new technologies.

Pro-Russian forces in the EU are represented by either far-right nationalist or extreme left-wing socialist and communist parties. In certain countries, they receive substantial backing while in others they face exclusion and no parliamentary representation.


  1. The National Rally (Rassemblement National)uses pro-Russian rhetoric. During the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Le Pen condemned the Russian aggression, but in 2023, she made speeches stating that sanctions were not effective, negotiations with the Kremlin were necessary, and Ukraine should only supplied with defensive weapons rather than offensive ones.
  2. The New Ecological and Social People’s Union a coalition of French socialists, communists and Greens has repeatedly criticized NATO expansion and has spoken out against anti-Russian sanctions imposed for the annexation of Crimea. After 24 February 2022, the party criticized Russia’s attack on Ukraine, but also held NATO partly responsible and objected to providing weapons to Kyiv.


The main Putinverstehers in Germany are Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland) and The Left (Die Linke). 

  1. AfD is an exteme right wing party with a nationalist, anti-Semitic and partly racist ideology. AdD has traditionally supported Russia. Since 2014, its representatives have called for the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions. They paid official visits to Russia and annexed Crimea. German media have repeatedly accused the AfD of receiving direct funding from the Kremlin. Alice Weidel, the leader of the Alternative for Germany, condemned Russian aggression against Ukraine. However, she stated that Russia’s actions are justified in reaction to NATO’s efforts to approach its borders. Weidel also said the sanctions would hurt German citizens more than Russia.
  2. The Left is a socialist party formed from the Socialist Party that was in power in 1949-1990 and representatives of the left wing of Germany’s Social Democrats. In 2017 the Left refused to condemn the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of Donbas, blaming the EU and NATO for the conflict. However, following the commencement of the all-out war in June 2022, the party adopted a resolution denouncing Russian aggression.  But afterwards its representative said that the destruction of the German economy due to anti-Russian sanctions will not help Ukraine. The Left has also systematically opposed arms deliveries to Kyiv.


In Austria, pro-Russian forces are represented by the extreme right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPA, Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs). After 24 February 2022, FPA continued to demand the cancelling of EU sanctions against Russia with eight draft resolutions and 280 press releases.


Friends of Putin in Italy are represented by three parties: League (Lega), Forward Italy (Forza Italia) and Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle).

  1. League is a right-wing populist and nationalist party. Its leader is Matteo Salvini. After the full-scale war began, Salvini condemned the invasion. But in June 2022, he opposed further arms deliveries to Ukraine and in September 2022 he claimed that the sanctions against Russia were not effective and were causing harm to Italy.
  2. Forward Italy is a right-wing party founded by the late former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. As head of the Italian government, he maintained warm relations with Vladimir Putin and called the annexation of Crimea legal. For quite a while, Forward Italy did not state its stance regarding the Russian attack on Ukraine. However, in September 2022, a few days before the parliamentary elections, Berlusconi said that aggression against Ukraine is unjustified and unacceptable. At the same time, he attributed part of the responsibility for the situation to NATO and proposed that Europe brings forward the topic of a peaceful resolution and supports Ukrainians in complying with Putin’s requirements. Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who led the party after Berlusconi’s death, holds different views on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. He said that he supported Kyiv’s proposals for a peace settlement and that negotiations were impossible without taking them into account because otherwise, it would be “not about peace, but about Ukraine’s defeat”.
  3. Five Star Movement is a populist party that has long called for an EU-Russia dialogue and, together with League, protested against anti-Russian sanctions. Its leader Giuseppe Conte has also consistently opposed military aid supplies to Ukraine.
  4. In September 2022, League and Forward Italy entered a coalition with Giorgia Meloni and her Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia) party, which won the last parliamentary elections. Despite the stance of the allies, Meloni favors increased aid to Ukraine. Five Star Movement was not included in the coalition.


Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly rejected Western calls to sever economic ties with Moscow. Orban has criticized EU sanctions on Russia, blocked European Union financial assistance for Ukraine. He has made Hungary the outcast of Europe. No one has gone so far in demolishing democratic institutions, turning against the Western institution system and cultivating relationships with Russia and China.


Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Smer-SD party, which stands for Direction – Social Democracy, is against any punitive measures aimed at Russia and Ukraine’s admission to NATO. He supports reducing military assistance to Kyiv.

Pro-Kremlin parties in Europe continue to lobby for Russian interests even after 24 February 2022. At the same time, they often do not vote against anti-Russian resolutions, but rather pay lip service to condemning aggression on the part of the Russian Federation.

The potential rise of pro-Russian groups in some European nations won’t result in any major shift in the EU’s stance towards Russia and Ukraine. The anti-Russian sanctions were imposed unanimously by all 27 EU members. The same unanimity is needed to abolish them. If a single country opposes it, the sanctions already imposed will not be lifted. It will not be possible to impose new sanctions with the dissent of at least one EU member either.

In the UK, the main political forces are in favour of continuing arms deliveries to Ukraine.

In Germany, opponents of military aid to the Ukrainians are strong, but their rise to power is unlikely. To form a government in the FRG, it is necessary to get at least 50% of mandates independently or as part of a coalition.

Austria, where pro-Russian forces are actually victorious, has so far not been a donor of military aid to Ukraine (providing only financial and humanitarian aid).

Italy has pledged about €700 million in military aid as of 31 June 2023, while France has pledged €500 million. Other countries where the positions of “Putin’s friends” are strong offered even smaller amounts.

Military assistance to Ukraine is provided not only by individual European countries but also by the European Union. The European Peace Facility, which is financed by contributions from EU members, is used for this purpose. Since the start of the full-scale war, the Ukrainians have received €3.6 billion from this fund.

If pro-Russian forces come to power in other EU countries, it could become even more difficult for Ukraine to get money from it.

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