David Cameron has claimed Britain " invented most of the things worth inventing" as he issued an impassioned rebuttal of Russia's reported dismissal of Britain as a "small island" whose views can be ignored.

Downing Street demanded "clarification" from the Kremlin yesterday of reported remarks by a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, who was said to have told reporters that the UK was "just a small island: no one pays any attention to them".

Putin's chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that he was responsible for the comment, insisting it did not reflect the reality of Russia's views on its "positive" relations with the UK.

But the Prime Minister told reporters: "I've been told that the Russians absolutely deny making the remark, and certainly no one's made it to me.

"But let me be clear - Britain may be a small island, but I would challenge anyone to find a country with a prouder history, a bigger heart or greater resilience.

"Britain is an island that has helped to clear the European continent of fascism and was resolute in doing that throughout the Second World War.

"Britain is an island that helped to abolish slavery, that has invented most of the things worth inventing, including every sport currently played around the world, that still today is responsible for art, literature and music that delights the entire world.

"We are very proud of everything we do as a small island - a small island that has the sixth-largest economy, the fourth best-funded military, some of the most effective diplomats, the proudest history, one of the best records for art and literature and contribution to philosophy and world civilisation."

He added: "For the people who live in Northern Ireland, I should say we are not just an island we are a collection of islands. I don't want anyone in Shetland or Orkney to feel left out by this."

Story continues below the gallery

Loading Slideshow...
  • Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, reaches out to shake hands with U.S. President Barack Obama during arrivals for the G-20 summit at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. The threat of missiles over the Mediterranean is weighing on world leaders meeting on the shores of the Baltic this week, and eclipsing economic battles that usually dominate when the G-20 world economies meet. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

  • Vladimir Putin, Christine Lagarde

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde during arrivals for the G-20 summit at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. The threat of missiles over the Mediterranean is weighing on world leaders meeting on the shores of the Baltic this week, and eclipsing economic battles that usually dominate when the G-20 world economies meet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

  • Vladimir Putin, Jose Angel-Gurria

    Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development Jose Angel-Gurria, right, shakes hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for the G-20 summit at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. The threat of missiles over the Mediterranean is weighing on world leaders meeting on the shores of the Baltic this week, and eclipsing economic battles that usually dominate when the G-20 world economies meet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

  • Vladimir Putin, Jose Angel-Gurria

    Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development Jose Angel-Gurria, right, gestures while speaking with Russia's President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for the G-20 summit at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. The threat of missiles over the Mediterranean is weighing on world leaders meeting on the shores of the Baltic this week, and eclipsing economic battles that usually dominate when the G-20 world economies meet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes US President Barack Obama at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes US President Barack Obama at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / YURI KADOBNOV (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin waits for heads of state at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Mexicos President Enrique Pena Nieto at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Mexicos President Enrique Pena Nieto at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Saudi Arabia's Minister of Finance Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Indias Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Indias Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • G20 Leaders Meet In St. Petersburg For The Summit

    SAINT PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout image provided by Host Photo Agency, President of the French Republic Francois Hollande arrives at the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The G20 summit is expected to be dominated by the issue of military action in Syria while issues surrounding the global economy, including tax avoidance by multinationals, will also be discussed duing the two-day summit. (Photo by Alexey Filippov/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)

  • G20 Leaders Meet In St. Petersburg For The Summit

    SAINT PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout image provided by Host Photo Agency, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin (R) and President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic Enrico Letta meet at the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The G20 summit is expected to be dominated by the issue of military action in Syria while issues surrounding the global economy, including tax avoidance by multinationals, will also be discussed duing the two-day summit. (Photo by Anton Denisov/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    US President Barack Obama waves upon his arrival at Saint Petersburg's airport ahead of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    US President Barack Obama (3L) speaks during a bilateral meeting with Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) on the sideline of the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg on September 5, 2013. World leaders meet Thursday at a G20 summit in Russia where Obama will strive to bridge deep divisions over his push for military action against the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) before a bilateral meeting on the sideline of the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg on September 5, 2013. World leaders meet Thursday at a G20 summit in Russia where Obama will strive to bridge deep divisions over his push for military action against the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Frances President Francois Hollande (L) shakes hands with Turkeys Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior a meeting ahead of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Frances President Francois Hollande (R) meets with Turkeys Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Russia hosts the G20 summit hoping to push forward an agenda to stimulate growth but with world leaders distracted by divisions on the prospect of US-led military action in Syria. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • G20 Leaders Meet In St. Petersburg For The Summit

    SAINT PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout image provided by Host Photo Agency, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin (R) and President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic Enrico Letta meet at the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The G20 summit is expected to be dominated by the issue of military action in Syria while issues surrounding the global economy, including tax avoidance by multinationals, will also be discussed duing the two-day summit. (Photo by Anton Denisov/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)

  • RUSSIA-G20-SUMMIT

    Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waits for US President to arrive for a bilateral meeting on the sideline of the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg on September 5, 2013. World leaders meet at a G20 summit in Russia where Obama will strive to bridge deep divisions over his push for military action against the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Cameron today ruled out any prospect of agreement over Syria at the G20 summit in St Petersburg, saying that Putin remains "miles away" from the truth of Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons on his own people.

Summit host Putin has rallied opposition from a number of countries at the summit to Barack Obama's proposals for punitive action against Assad, with only France suggesting it will join in any military strikes.

Cameron confirmed that deep divisions over Syria were voiced at last night's four-hour official dinner and said that - despite evidence of nerve gas sarin found by US and UK scientists - Putin is still far from accepting the regime's responsibility for the August 21 attack which killed hundreds of civilians in a Damascus suburb.

"This G20 was never going to reach conclusions on Syria," said the Prime Minister. "The divisions are too great.

"The Russian position that, as Putin has said, if it is proved it is Assad he will take a different view but he is fairly clear that it is the opposition, is miles away from what I think the truth is and miles away from what lots of us believe."

Following a 35-minute face-to-face meeting with Putin in the early hours of today, Mr Cameron said: "He says to me that he would like to see further evidence of regime culpability and we will go on providing evidence of regime culpability, as will the Americans and others, but I think it will take a lot to change his mind."

The premiers of Turkey, Canada, Germany and Italy all joined Mr Obama and Mr Cameron in making the case at last night's dinner for a robust international response to Assad's alleged breach of treaties banning the use of chemical weapons.

But it is understood that Putin's argument that any action must be approved by the UN Security Council was backed by several countries, including China.

SEE ALSO: World Not On Board With Syria Strikes

Related on HuffPost: