Kremlin Gets Flashback of Soviet Collapse in Brexit Fallout

The upheaval in the U.K. after its Brexit referendum in favor of leaving the European Union has similarities to the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman.

While it’s “unreasonable to draw direct parallels,” it’s obvious that the U.K. is going through a “turbulent, confusing and unpredictable period,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call Monday. Russia “has gone through the collapse of the Soviet Union and many generations clearly remember the period of the Soviet collapse, that period of uncertainty.”

Russia’s recalling the trauma of the end of the Soviet Union as the U.K. wrestles with the consequences of becoming the first member state to choose to leave the EU, casting a shadow over the bloc’s future existence. The USSR was dissolved in December 1991, more than 18 months after Lithuania led the Baltic republics in declaring independence. The Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia joined the EU in 2004 and all three have since adopted the euro as their currency. Putin called the Soviet collapse “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century in 2005.

The ruble rallied the most among emerging-nation currencies, following oil on Monday, paring its sharpest drop in two months on Friday, when the shock referendum result hammered markets globally. It traded 0.4 percent stronger at 65.3533 per dollar at 3:29 p.m. in Moscow.

In the “current fragile situation, one black swan can pull others along with it,” Russian Finance Anton Siluanov said Friday in Moscow, referring to the economic impact of rare unpredictable events. Russian policy makers should be ready for negative scenarios in the global economy, he said.

The Kremlin is following events closely because of potential economic consequences, though there are “more questions than answers” now, Peskov said. Russia has often urged the U.K. to restore ties in recent years, and it will work to maintain good relations with the EU since it has an interest in a “stable, fast-developing and predictable” Europe, he said.

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