Emmanuel Macron receives Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Elysée Palace in Paris on February 8, 2023.

“Europe’s shame: Shattering defeat for Macron and Scholz.” Commenting on the outcome of the European elections on Monday, June 10, Vyacheslav Volodin made no secret of his satisfaction. “Such results were to be expected,” wrote the president of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, on Telegram. “A stagnant economy, the migration crisis, countries engaging in war in Ukraine against their national interests…”

Beyond this observation, the recommendation of Russia’s fourth-ranking official was unequivocal: “Macron and Scholz are clinging to power, but the most proper thing for them to do would be to resign and stop mocking their fellow citizens.”

While not all Russian commentators went that far, they are all closely watching the situations in Germany and France. This contrasts with the relatively stable European landscape, which even sees a slight progression of the conservatives in power in Brussels.

‘A virus of illegitimacy’

The prevailing interpretation of these results aligns with Vladimir Putin’s latest remarks, on June 7, where he described European elites as “subservient to the United States and working against the interests of their people.” “Having done nothing but carry out Washington’s orders and abandoned all sovereignty, they [Macron and Scholz] could count on nothing but this deserved result, which confirms their indigence as national and European political leaders,” said Council of the Federation Chairwoman Valentina Matvienko. “It seems that a dangerous virus of illegitimacy is beginning to spread across the European continent,” noted Matvienko, a loyal apparatchik to all Russian leaders since Soviet times.

The tone in the Kremlin was a little less virulent. In his daily press briefing, spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that “the majority [in the European Parliament] will be pro-European and pro-Ukrainian (…), but we can see the momentum of right-wing parties gaining in popularity. It seems that over time, these groups will be on the rise, and we are following this process carefully.”

In the press, the theme of illegitimacy is particularly aimed at Emmanuel Macron. He has been the primary target of Russian media and officials since he claims to be at the forefront of Western support for Ukraine. France was also the scene of several Moscow-branded destabilization operations in the final weeks of the election campaign.

‘The role of the lame duck’

“Macron finds himself de facto with the same status as Zelensky, that of illegitimate president,” wrote the daily paper Komsomolskaya Pravda in its post-election analysis. “He hopes, of course, for the formation of parliamentary coalitions after the new elections, but he is condemned to play the role of the lame duck until the end of his term.”

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