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Russia scolds Britain for saying the Kremlin dreams of Brexit

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a state awarding ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Pavel Golovkin/Pool

LONDON (Reuters) - Russia scolded Britain on Friday for saying that Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin dreamed of weakening the West with a British exit from the European Union.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said last week that the only country wanting Britain to the leave the EU was Russia and Prime Minister David Cameron has said what he termed Putin’s aggression makes this no time to drop out of the EU.

“Russia is being dragged into the domestic debate on Brexit,” the Russian embassy in London said in a statement. “Why is the wicked Russia thesis used to explain a Government policy?”

“We’d like the British people to know that those pronouncements have nothing to do with Russia’s policy,” the embassy said. “As a matter of fact, our Government doesn’t have an opinion on Britain’s place in the EU.”

Putin has made no public remarks about Britain’s June EU referendum, though U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have indicated they support Britain’s membership of the world’s biggest trading bloc.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison