The leader of the left-wing La France Insoumise (Unbowed France), Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who contested Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 presidential election, has taken aim at NATO while campaigning ahead of the upcoming European elections.
"It is in your interest to have members of parliament who will not take part in the anti-Russian and pro-NATO hysteria raging in the European Parliament”, he said, Le Figaro reports.
He also denounced Georgia’s reported aspirations to join the alliance as "a crude and stupid provocation". He went on to warn against repeating the scenario of Ukraine, which he said "would put us in the hands of the irresponsible", arguing that NATO is "a military coalition that we do not run". He concluded that Europeans "have no interest in escalating tensions" with Russia.
"It's an honour for me to be compared to Russia’s agent because I want peace", he stated, hinting at criticism over his alleged sympathies to the EU’s eastern neighbour.
NATO has considerably beefed up its presence near Russia since the 2014 Ukraine crisis, sending battle groups, staging major exercises, and deploying reconnaissance aircraft and drones along the Russian border.
The Kremlin has repeatedly stated that Russia poses no threat to anyone, but will not ignore any potentially dangerous activities. On the contrary, Moscow has voiced alarm at NATO’s unprecedented activities and expanding presence near its border regions, citing an alleged “Russian threat”.