Russian officials are rejoicing over the U.K.’s June 23 ‘Brexit’ referendum.
“Without Britain, there won’t be anybody in the EU to defend sanctions against us so zealously,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin tweeted out in the aftermath of the results. Andrei Klimov, deputy chairman of the international affairs committee in the Russian Parliament, told The New York Times, “I don’t think the European Union will now have time to think about Ukraine or about sanctions.”
The U.K. was the strongest proponents of tough EU sanctions against Russia for not complying with its commitments to restore the Ukrainian-Russian border. The EU’s energy sanctions against Russia have been particularly crippling, plunging Russia’s currency value and contracting its economy by two percent in 2015. The future of these crippling sanctions are now in question following the U.K. referendum to leave the EU.
Publicly Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown ambivalence to the results, telling reporters the results “will be both positive and negative” for Russia. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, added that the EU should understand “the need to build good relations” with Russia in the wake of the U.K.’s departure.
Aleksei Makarkin, an expert at the Russian Center for Political Technologies, told The New York Times, “The overall mood in Russia can be described as malicious joy.” The editor of Russia Today, a well known Russian propaganda outlet, tweeted “fun times begin” in the wake of the vote.
Michael Mcfaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, wrote in the Washington Post that the referendum was a “win for Putin” and that a weakening of the EU” serves Putin’s political purposes.” Boris Titov, a senior Kremlin official, took to Facebook to call the British decision “not the independence of Britain from Europe, but the independence of Europe from the USA.”
Titov added ominously, “it’s not long until a united Eurasia — about 10 years.”
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