> Vladimir Putin says he doesn't want to meddle in the French presidential elections, but on Friday the Russian president hosted one of it's front runners in the Kremlin, far right National Front leader Marine Le Pen.>> Of course I know that the election campaign in France is actively developing.
We don't want to influence events in any way. But we reserve the right to talk to all representatives of all the countries' political forces.>> Le Pen hoping the meet will prove popular with her core voters, many of whom admire Putin's conservative stance on social and moral issues.
But floating voters may be turned off by association with a leader the West sees as a dictator. Le Pen herself is a self-confessed Putin admirer. In the past, she's publicly backed Russia's annexation of Crimea. On Friday confirming she wants to remove EU sanctions on Moscow over its role in the Ukraine crisis.
In the shadow of this week's London attack, talk also turned to global terrorism, both leaders agreeing Moscow must team up with the West to take on Islamic State. For now, the meeting confirms that Russia isn't shy about actions that could influence Western elections, even after denying trying to sway the US and French presidential votes.
Putin and French right-winger Francois Fillon have already been scrutinized over their close relationship. Now the question is whether Le Pen wins or loses votes by flaunting her relationship with Moscow.