EU referendum: Russian President claims David Cameron tried to blackmail the European Union

Jake Cordell
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"What would Putin do?" has been a question asked by Remain campaigners (Source: Getty)

Vladimir Putin has accused David Cameron of trying to "blackmail" the European Union to scare the bloc into granting him concessions ahead of the 23 June referendum.

The Russian president, who foreign secretary Philip Hammond said was the only world leader that supported Brexit, added he could not understand why David Cameron was letting the public have a say on the issue if he was so opposed to leaving the EU.

"For the prime minister of the UK, there is a great problem with Brexit," Putin said.

"Why did he initiate this vote in the first place? So he wanted to blackmail Europe or to scare them or something? What was the goal if he was against Brexit?"

Read more: IMF ramps up Brexit recession warnings

However, Putin refused to be drawn on whether he supported or opposed the UK's membership of the EU, hitting back at the journalist who asked him the question: "I will refrain from giving a forecast [of what will happen after Brexit]. Whatever I say will be interpreted to the benefit of either side. That's the business of the EU and the people of the EU."

He added: "I don't think that this is very proper to engage Russia in all the problems, even if we are not involved, to try to make Russia a scarecrow."

Yesterday, the EU extended sanctions against Russian-annexed Crimea for another year and will decide next week whether to keep its broader sanctions regime aimed at key sectors of the Russian economy in place.

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