: BBC: Would Brexit make Putin happy? - E.U. referendum

13:22 Jun. 7, 2016

BBC: Would Brexit make Putin happy? - E.U. referendum

Russia President Vladimir Putin looks on during the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games Closing Ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium on March 16, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Getty Images)

You don't have to be British to have an opinion on Brexit

In recent weeks a string of world leaders have expressed their views on the UK's EU referendum. And the vast majority of them back Britain remaining in the EU.

Watch also Scotland's Independence Poll: Russian observers find flaws with vote

"If the countries that are closest to you, those who you have a special relationship with, are suggesting you might be better off staying in this relationship with Europe, it's worth paying attention," said US President Barack Obama.

"The United Kingdom needs Europe and Europe needs the United Kingdom," said European Council President Donald Tusk.

And what has Russian President Vladimir Putin said about Brexit?

Absolutely nothing. The Kremlin has been keeping silent on the matter.

That has not prevented Russia from being sucked into the Brexit debate. Prime Minister David Cameron said recently that Mr Putin "might be happy" if Britain left the EU.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was even more direct. "The only country, if the truth is told, that would like us to leave the EU is Russia," he said. "And that should probably tell us all that we need to know."

Assertions like that leave Russian officials rolling their eyes.

Read also Guardian: Why Brexit would be the perfect gift for Vladimir Putin - Garry Kasparov

"Russia is blamed for everything," Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told me. Not only in the UK but all over the world.

"We're watching, for example, the presidential campaign in the United States and we're also mentioned there. So it's not surprising for us. But Russia has nothing to do with Brexit at all. We're not involved in this process. We have no interest in this field."

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