How Russia built its soft power in France

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For years, Russia led a vast campaign to promote its standing and influence in western Europe, and particularly in France, where the Kremlin’s soft-power strategy had notably, and successfully, targeted political and business circles. In this interview with Mediapart, Marlène Laruelle, director of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the George Washington University, details the history and reach of Russia’s drive to gain influence in France, and which was “destroyed in a matter of days, and for several years to come” following its invasion of Ukraine.

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th brought an abrupt end to the ambitions of its campaign to promote its standing and influence in western Europe. France has long been one of the principal targets of the Kremlin’s soft-power strategy, successfully building Russian influence notably among political and business circles.