On Thursday, the British public will vote in a referendum on whether their country should stay in or leave the European Union. The referendum was scheduled after UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the leaders of the 27 EU member states agreed in February to grant London a special status within the bloc.
Russian President Hopes Europe to Stay Strong
"Some experts say that Europe would be more consolidated, some say that it could be the first step toward disintegration of the rest of Europe and so on," Putin said.
He added that Moscow would prefer to be engaged in a dialogue with stronger Europe.
"You want me to say what Russia's stance is on this, whether Russia wants to talk to a strong Europe or a weak one. Russia certainly wants to talk to a strong Europe, because having dialogue with a weak partner is not worth it. One can always expect that someone else will somehow pressure him [partner] and all agreements and joint plans will be ruined. While a strong partner will never allow something like that to be done," Putin said in a response to a question regarding the upcoming UK referendum.
He refused to express his own opinion on the matter.
"I think that we should respect the choice of the British people, regardless of what it will be. We just have to wait a few days and see what happens," Putin added.
The representatives of Russia's diplomatic corps have said that Moscow would accept any outcome of the referendum, refuting statements of several UK officials that Brexit could bring benefits for Russia.
"Our position is simple, we will accept any outcome [of the voting]. It's the British people who should decide. We are not interfering in the issue. Some of British politicians say that the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU is advantageous for Russia. This approach is absolutely wrong. We will accept any outcome of the voting, as it [outcome] is the will of the British people," Russia's Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko told RT television in an interview.
"Some may think so, but there are no grounds for this," he told Sputnik on the sidelines of the SPIEF, when asked why London thought Moscow backed Brexit.
If the United Kingdom were to leave the European Union, Russia would form relations with it as a country that is not a member of the bloc, Chizhov added.
Russian presidential aide Andrei Belousov said that it was too early to speak about the consequences of potential Brexit and added that it could have impact on the European Union itself, but Moscow could also be affected by it.
"It is a crystall-ball gazing. This exit, if it happens, will have system aftermath, first of all for the European Union, for trade within the European Union. Because the European Union is our largest partner and nearest neighbor, with which we preserve very close ties, despite the sanctions… then of course such tectonic shifts in the European Union would also be very sensible issue for us," Belousov told reporters.
He added that at the moment no one could either predict all consequences of Brexit and could give unbiased estimates on the issue.