BERLIN – Now that Europe is digging in for a protracted economic war on Russia, President Vladimir Putin desperately needs his sympathizers in the European Union to lobby for his interests. This “fifth column” is often assumed to be made up of radicals on the extreme right and extreme left, but mainstream politicians and intellectuals are also involved, and their arguments are of a pragmatic rather than an ideological nature.
The radicals, of course, are most vocal. Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, the U.K.’s anti-immigrant, anti-EU party, has demanded that the West stop opposing Russian actions in Ukraine and ally itself with Putin in the fight against Islamic extremism. Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s ultranationalist Front National, is another Putin admirer. And Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, has praised the Russian leader as a “pure democrat.”
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