‘Evil Russia’ works for any issue: Moscow rejects Hammond’s claim it wants UK to quit EU

The Ministry of Defence building is seen in London © Suzanne Plunkett
Russia is concerned about the British government’s attempts to make it a “scapegoat” in the Brexit debate, the Russian Embassy to the UK has said. The diplomatic outburst follows the UK foreign secretary’s claim that Moscow wants the UK out of the EU.

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“We find this unfair towards both Russia, with whom Britain maintains diplomatic relations, and the British people, who deserve a better treatment from their own government,” reads a statement from the Russian embassy published on Friday, referring to remarks recently made by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

“…None of our allies want us to leave the EU: nor Australia, nor New Zealand, not Canada, not the US. In fact, the only country would like us to leave the EU is Russia. That fact should probably tell us everything we need to know,” said Hammond, in an attempt to counter anti-EU campaigners.

Hammond’s statement shows that UK officials have once again resorted to the “wicked Russia thesis,” dragging Russia into the debate on UK’s domestic issues against its will, the embassy said. In doing so, they “admit they cannot win an argument in an open and straightforward debate” with the British people, it argued.

The embassy stressed that the referendum on EU membership has no connection to Russia. Moreover, the Russian government “doesn’t have an opinion on Britain’s place in the EU.”

However, the anti-Russian rhetoric employed by UK authorities to justify Britain staying in the EU appears to reflect a familiar pattern from the Western narrative of the last 25 years, the statement argues. It is not surprising, since Russia has been publicly blamed “for almost everything that has gone wrong in Britain and the West,” including the war in Iraq, the protracted conflict in Libya, global financial woes, and the Ukrainian and Syrian crises, with the newest addition to the list blaming Russia for the ongoing refugee crisis gripping Europe, the embassy said.

“Together, Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponizing migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve,” NATO General Philip Breedlove told the US Senate earlier in March.

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This accusation is anything but true, the embassy stressed, as the European migration crisis had begun long before the Russian military operation was launched in Syria on September 30, 2015. On the contrary, Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict has contributed to resolving the refugee crisis in at least four ways: by fighting Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL), bringing about a ceasefire deal, providing humanitarian aid, and working with the US and International Syria Support Group.

The Russian Defense Ministry had already denounced these accusations earlier, with ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov pointing out that “the UN is registering the reduction of refugee flows from Syria and a process of reconciliation has been initiated, which is something the Western so-called ‘anti-ISIS coalition’ has been unable to achieve.”

Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy to the UK has also reminded London that it would better be off minding its own business.

“We have enough problems of our own to mind somebody else’s business. More than that, we believe that if our Western partners had minded their own business well enough, all of us would have had fewer international problems on our hands,” the statement stressed.

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