Moscow, June 18 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin said he does not understand why British Prime Minister David Cameron has decided to hold a referendum on whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union (EU).
In an interview in St. Petersburg on Friday, Putin questioned Cameron’s purpose in calling the ‘Brexit’ vote, due to be held on June 23, Efe news reported.
“Why did he put this voting process into motion? Why did he do it? To blackmail Europe again? To frighten somebody? What purpose did he have if he was against leaving the EU?” Putin asked rhetorically.
He said Brexit “is not our affair” and expressed his wish that British voters will be “well-informed and understand the consequences” of a possible EU exit as they cast their vote.
Putin said while some people tended to blame Russia for everything, his country bore no responsibility for Britain’s decision to hold the referendum.
He also noted that Russia had made significant progress in modernising its nuclear arsenal.
“I can assure you that we have achieved important advances.”
He said it would only be possible for Russia to “preserve the strategic balance in the world” by modernising and developing its nuclear weapons.
As to whether Russia favours Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump to triumph in the US presidential contest, Putin said Moscow would work with whoever won the November election.
“Regardless of the election rhetoric, we will judge by the deeds, not words, of the new US president, and will seek ways to normalise ties and advance our cooperation in economy and international security,” he said.