Putin tells Le Pen that Russia 'doesn't want to influence' French election

Emmanuel Macron campaign officials have previously alleged Russian meddling ahead of the vote

Putin tells Le Pen that Russia 'doesn't want to influence' French election

Marine Le Pen meets with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Image: Kremlin

The far-right French presidential candidate has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

At today's meeting, Mr Putin assured the National Front leader that he had no intention of meddling in the upcoming election.

In a statement, Mr Putin said: "We value highly our relations with France and try to maintain good relations with incumbent government and the opposition.

"I am, of course, aware of the ongoing election campaign in France. In no case do we want to influence the events as they unfold, but we reserve the right to communicate with all representatives of all political forces in France, just like our partners in Europe and the United States are doing."

Mr Putin added that Ms Le Pen - a nationalist, Eurosceptic candidate with hardline stances on immigration and radical Islam - represents a "European political force that is quickly growing".

Ms Le Pen, who is visiting Russia at the invitation of the country's parliament, has previously praised the Russian leader as "looking after the interests of his own country".

Marine Le Pen visited the Museums of the Moscow Kremlin. Image: Kremlin

French election

Amid the ongoing investigations into alleged Russian interference in last year's US election, fears about potential Russian influence have been raised ahead of the upcoming votes in France and other European countries.

Officials with Emmanuel Macron’s campaign last month alleged that Russian state-controlled media Russia Today and Sputnik spread false reports with the aim of swinging public opinion against the increasingly popular independent candidate.

Campaign officials also claimed they have experienced "hundreds if not thousands" of cyber attacks targeting their computer systems from locations inside Russia. 

The Kremlin has denied the allegations.

Ms Le Pen is widely expected to one of two candidates to progress past the first round of the presidential election in April.

However, opinion polls have consistently shown she will likely struggle in a May face-off against either Mr Macron or conservative candidate Francois Fillon.

Mr Macron's popularity has continued to grow as Mr Fillon - once the clear frontrunner - has found himself battling several controversies and scandals.

Mr Fillon has been placed under formal investigation over claims he gave his wife a "fake job".