Putin Takes Advantage

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin has remained poker-faced as Britain voted to exit the European Union, but the Russian leader stands to gain significantly from the British departure, which would weaken the EU and create new tensions in the bloc.

With Britain facing a long and messy divorce with the EU, both London's role and, consequently, U.S. influence over EU foreign policy will wither, helping Russia-friendly bloc members in their efforts to mend a rift with Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis.

In the long term, Putin can expect new opportunities for Russia to raise its clout on the continent. The outcome of the British referendum has emboldened euroskeptic parties across the EU, and the rising economic and political uncertainty will only strengthen their positions further.

And even though the financial storm caused by the British departure could raise economic risks for Russia by affecting oil prices and battering Russian stocks, potential political dividends for Moscow from the EU's crumbling would far outweigh the mid-term economic damage.

"From Russia's viewpoint, Britain's exit makes Europe healthier, more continental and easier for Russia to deal with," wrote Alexander Baunov of the Moscow Carnegie Center think tank. Read more:

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