In March 2016, the UK's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond suggested that the only country wanting Britain to leave the EU was Russia. Conversely, Prime Minister David Cameron has argued that Putin's "aggression" was a reason to remain inside the European Union.
The latest #Russophobic comment from UK is Cameron citing Putin and al-Baghdadi in the same sentence as wanting to see the UK leave the EU.— Marcus Papadopoulos (@DrMarcusP) May 17, 2016
The Russian Embassy in London has once again reiterated its position — that Moscow has been unfairly dragged into a debate on which it holds no opinion. In a statement on behalf of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov said:
"We are used to the Russian factor being one of the regular tools used in the US electoral campaign, but for us it's a new thing that the Russian factor or the President Putin factor is being used in the Brexit debate.
"It is a new phenomenon… and let's not forget that President Putin has spoken more than once about our interest in forging good partner-like and mutually beneficial relations with EU nations."
Asked about his response to the allegations by the Remain campaign that their Leave counterparts are "playing into the hands of President Putin," the leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling MP told Sputnik:
"It's absolute rubbish. In the heat of the campaign people say things. But the arguments about leaving have nothing to do with president Putin. The reason is that in Europe we are well placed to tackle any aggressive or confrontational action of Russia as a member of NATO, and that partnership goes beyond the EU."
Russian President Vladimir Putin is relatively unusual amongst world leaders, in that he has not expressed any preference regarding the UK's relationship with the European Union.
UK citizens will vote on June 23 in a referendum on the country's EU membership.