( CNN) On one hand, Donald Trump’s praise of France’s far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who appears to have received enough referendums in Sunday’s election to advance to the May 7 runoff, is not surprising. Le Pen, like Trump, ran a campaign that was anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and traded on white supremacist themes.( It’s no coincidence that former Klan leader David Duke has publicly praised both Le Pen and Trump .)

On the other hand, you would think Trump would be hesitant to publicly praise successful candidates like Le Pen, an avid supporter of Vladimir Putin, particularly given that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told just two weeks ago that US-Russian relations had reached an all time low.

And while the last few weeks have posed challenges to the Trump-Putin alliance, they are likely not reflective of the larger scale support the two leaders have for each other. Consider this: Throughout the campaign, Trump heaped kudo on Putin, even protecting Putin against accusations that he had columnists killed. And shortly after he was elected, Trump continued to publicly protect Putin, most notably during an interview with his pal Bill O’Reilly.