Kremlin Calling?: An investigation into the geopolitical narratives of selected European radical right parties regarding Russia
Rising to prominence following the 2008 financial crisis, the European radical right has become a popular topic within both mainstream and academic debate. Now boasting a powerful presence in many European states, the political tradition has presented a myriad of existential threats to the continent’s liberal status quo. Among these new challenges is a widespread desire to reassess relations with Russia. Also eager to take advantage of Europe’s ongoing uncertainty, the Kremlin has shown great interest in engaging with radical right parties as part of its geopolitical resurgence. This relationship has drawn the attention of a fledgling body of literature, which has noted Russia’s willingness to fund and support these groups. Despite this, research has yet to investigate why exactly many radical right parties have been willing to engage with Moscow. This is all the more surprising given the literature’s discussion of a shared illiberalism, with studies continuing to focus solely on Russia’s export of such beliefs. As such, this study attempts to rectify this issue by directly engaging with Russia policies found in the literature of four radical right parties. Such information is subject to a methodology embracing both critical geopolitics and narrative analysis, with radical right theory lending itself to an explicitly ‘spatiotemporal’ understanding of international relations. The study finds that rather than embracing sheer opportunism, the parties have incorporated Russia into vivid narratives bound by desires to “revolt against the modern world”. Simultaneously, national circumstances ensure that this ‘template’ has been manipulated according to subjective needs, with party narratives now helping to challenge the seemingly ‘inevitable’ nature of the radical right-Russia relationship.