Writing last week at The Washington Post, Anne Applebaum observed:
During his Brussels speech this week, Obama also declared that Russia leads “no bloc of nations, no global ideology.” This is true, up to a point: Russia’s “ideology” isn’t well-defined or clear. But the U.S. president was wrong to imply that the Russian president’s rhetoric, and his annexation of Crimea, has no wider echo. Of course there were the predictable supporters of Russia in the United Nations: Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, North Korea. More interesting are his new European friends. Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) — an anti-European and anti-immigrant party that is gaining momentum in Britain — declared last week that the European Union has “blood on its hands” for negotiating a free-trade agreement in Ukraine. Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far-right National Front, has also said she prefers France to “lean toward Russia” rather than “submit to the United States.” Jobbik, Hungary’s far-right party, sent a representative to the Crimean referendum and declared it “exemplary.” These are all minority parties, but they are all poised to make gains in European elections this spring.
Russia’s ideology may be mishmash: the old Soviet critique of hypocritical “bourgeois democracy,” plus some anti-Europeanism, some anti-globalism and a homophobic twist for contemporary appeal. But let’s not assume that competition between ideas is absurd and old-fashioned. And let’s not pretend that ideologies don’t matter, because even if we’d prefer otherwise, they do.
Farage, a regular guest on Russia’s state-owned RT TV, has also expressed his admiration for Vladimir Putin.
Farage caused surprise at the weekend when asked by GQ magazine which politician he most admired. He replied: “As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say [Vladimir] Putin.” He defended his approach at a Chatham House event in London. He pointed out: “I said I don’t like him, I wouldn’t trust him and I wouldn’t want to live in his country, but compared with the kids who run foreign policy in this country, I’ve more respect for him than our lot.”
I posted last month about the bizarre swooning over Putin on the American Right.
And this, of course, is an April Fool’s joke. When it comes to Russia and Ukraine, there may be some distance between the Stop the War Coalition on the one hand and the National Front and Jobbik on the other, but I haven’t located it yet.