DOWNING Street has dismissed as “ridiculous” reports that it has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for help in the Scottish independence referendum.
The Russian state owned press agency Itar-Tass cited a source in the Conservative Prime Minister’s office which claimed that Britain was “extremely interested” in referendum support from Russia.
However, a Downing Street spokesman said: “We don’t recognise these claims. The PM has made it clear on many occasions that this is a decision for people in Scotland to make. Any suggestion that the UK Government has asked President Putin to help win hearts and minds in the Scottish referendum is ridiculous.”
The Russian Government has taken over as chair of the G8 group of nations this year and has separatist movements to deal with at home. It is understood that senior Russian diplomats in London have privately expressed concerns over the international impact of the breakup of the UK.
Itar-Tass, which is often seen as the Kremlin’s mouthpiece, said an aide to Cameron had warned Scottish independence could “send shockwaves across the whole of Europe”.
Reacting to the report First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This report from Russia raises serious questions about the UK Government’s underhand tactics. If this is accurate, then Westminster has been caught red-handed trying to stir up hostility to Scotland instead of representing Scotland’s interests - it seems the No Campaign’s self-named ‘Project Fear’ has now gone global.”
A source close to the Prime Minister added: “This report reflects more the fact that the impact of Scottish independence will not just be felt in the UK but will have ramifications abroad.”