President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia congratulated Emmanuel Macron on Monday for his re-election as France’s president after defeating Marine Le Pen, a far-right candidate many in Russia favored as a potential game-changing option for the Kremlin amid the threat of new sanctions and in the midst of the war in Ukraine.
“I sincerely wish you success in your state activities, as well as good health and well-being,” Mr. Putin said in a congratulatory note to Mr. Macron, published by the Kremlin.
Mr. Macron has been one of the few Western politicians willing to engage with Mr. Putin, relentlessly trying to push the Russian leader toward diplomacy. Since the start of the war on Feb. 24, the two presidents have had nine telephone conversations, according to the Kremlin.
However, Mr. Macron has been bound by the French commitment to the trans-Atlantic unity, something that Ms. Le Pen, his rival, was willing to weaken. Ms. Le Pen, whose National Rally party borrowed millions from a Russian bank over the past decade, said rapprochement with Russia would be her foreign-policy priority once the fighting in Ukraine stopped.
A victory by Ms. Le Pen would have been seen as a great triumph for Mr. Putin, who has risked his country’s long-term economic well-being for the sake of territorial gain in Ukraine.
For some commentators in Russia, however, it wasn’t Ms. Le Pen’s far-right or pro-Moscow stance that prevented her from getting elected, but that she did not go far enough in endorsing the Kremlin.
Zakhar Prilepin, a conservative Russian writer and politician, said on social media that instead of “trying to get glued together with Macron into one undistinguishable ball,” Ms. Le Pen “had to say that she supports the special operation, would quit NATO, and send the Foreign Legion, Algerian special forces and her own security detail to Belgorod for drills.”