meanwhile, in france
The White House has begun sweating over the possibility of a Marine Le Pen victory in France, concerned such a rebuke of incumbent Emmanuel Macron would upset the NATO military alliance and hand Russian President Vladimir Putin an important advantage in his crusade against Ukraine, Politico reports.
Should the far-right and Putin-sympathizing Le Pen win, it could "destabilize the Western coalition against Moscow, upending France's role as a leading European power and potentially giving other NATO leaders cold feet about staying in the alliance," Politico writes, per three senior administration officials.
A President Le Pen would also "present the European Union with its biggest crisis since Brexit," while simultaneously complicating efforts to assist Ukraine in fending off the unjust Russian invasion. In a worst-case scenario, Le Pen wins and pulls France from the coalition of countries standing alongside Kyiv, officials told Politico.
The first round of elections begins Sunday, and polls suggest Macron and Le Pen will likely advance to a close two-person showdown on April 24.
"Le Pen represents a historic threat to one of the most important democracies in Europe," Lauren Speranza of the Center for European Policy Analysis told Politico. "If she leads France, it will be incredibly difficult to maintain the relative unity the trans-Atlantic community has shown so far in the war in Ukraine."
"Her election would play directly into Putin's goal of exacerbating cracks in the NATO alliance," she added.
Though Le Pen has backed off some of her pro-Putin rhetoric, she can't dodge the remarks she's made in the past, Politico writes.
Most analysts don't believe she will prevail — but even a narrow loss could have a "chilling effect" on European leaders, Biden aides said. Read more at Politico.