Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right National Front, says she admires Vladimir Putin as much as German Chancellor Angela Merkel because the Russian president did not allow other countries to impose decisions on him.
In an interview with German magazine "Der Spiegel," Le Pen said she has respect for leaders who defended their country's interests.
She said Merkel's policies were good for Germany, though they could hurt others.
She said she believes Putin puts first Russia's interests, "so in this regard I have the same amount of respect for him as for Ms. Merkel."
Le Pen -- whose anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic party scored its first nationwide poll victory in elections for the European parliament last week -- also said she wants to destroy the EU but not Europe.
Based on reporting by Reuters and spiegel.de