Putin Says Russia Didn’t Interfere in Brexit Referendum

  • Russia may alter its EU policy after Brexit, president says
  • Putin says Brexit unlikely to affect EU’s Russia sanctions

President Vladimir Putin said Russia didn’t interfere in the U.K.’s referendum on leaving the European Union, whose result showed that Britons want to be independent.

The vote to leave may be the result of “arrogance and a superficial approach to vital questions” shown by U.K. leaders toward difficulties in their own country and in the EU, Putin told reporters Friday in Uzbekistan at the end of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. While Russia “attentively followed” events in the U.K., it behaved “very properly” and “didn’t even try to influence” the referendum, he said.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s warning before the vote that Russia favored Brexit “had no basis in fact” and was an “inappropriate attempt to influence public opinion in his own country,” Putin said. The attempt backfired and asserting that Russia has a view on the vote is “nothing more than a demonstration of a low level of political culture,” he said.

People backed Brexit because they don’t want to subsidize weaker countries’ economies and are worried about security and immigration, Putin said. Russia will adjust its economic and foreign policies toward the EU as needed after the decision, though the U.K.’s departure is unlikely to affect European sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine, he said. Russia doesn’t “expect any kind of global catastrophe” from the vote, and markets will stabilize soon, the president said.

‘Right Choice’

Others offered more strident views of the referendum’s impact. Without the U.K. in the EU, there’ll be “nobody as eager to defend sanctions against us,” Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, said on Twitter.

Voters “made the right choice,” Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of Russia’s nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, said in comments posted on Periscope. “The farmers, provincials and workers of Britain said no to a union created by the financial mafia, globalists and everyone else.”

The U.K.’s departure represents the separation of the rest of Europe “from the Anglo-Saxons - that is, from the U.S.,” Boris Titov, the Kremlin’s business ombudsman, said on Facebook. “And it won’t be long until a united Eurasia -- about 10 years,” he said.

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