Presidential Election

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he prefers Biden to Trump

The comments were rare praise for Biden, though Putin said Moscow still strongly disagrees with the current administration's policies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
SMS

President Vladimir Putin said Russia would prefer to see U.S. President Joe Biden win a second term, describing him as more experienced and predictable than Donald Trump — even though Moscow strongly disagrees with the current administration's policies.

Putin's comments during an interview with Russian state television Wednesday were his first about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, likely to pit Biden against Trump. They come at time of heightened tension between Russia and the West — and deep disagreements in the U.S. about how best to counter Russia and help Ukraine, which is fighting Moscow's forces.

“Biden, he’s more experienced, more predictable, he’s a politician of the old formation,” Putin said, when asked which candidate would be better for Russia. “But we will work with any U.S. leader whom the American people trust.”

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The comments were rare praise for President Biden, a fierce critic of the Russian leader who has frequently lauded Trump. At a campaign rally Wednesday night, Trump appeared to embrace Putin's criticism, saying: “Putin is not a fan of mine.”

And Putin did refer to his disagreements with President Biden.

“I believe that the position of the current administration is badly flawed and wrong, and I have told President Biden about that,” he said.

Putin has claimed that he sent troops into Ukraine to protect Russian speakers there and to prevent a threat to Russia’s security posed by Ukraine’s bid to join the NATO alliance. Ukraine and its Western allies have denounced Moscow’s action as an unprovoked act of aggression. Several NATO countries, chief among them the U.S. under President Biden's leadership, have sent Kyiv weapons and other military aid to fend off Russia's attack.

Trump, meanwhile, recently called into question U.S. funding for Ukraine and said he once warned he would allow Russia to do whatever it wants to NATO member nations that are “delinquent” in investing in their own defense. Those comments sent shock waves through Europe, where some leaders are preparing for a time when the U.S. does not play the pivotal role in NATO that it does now.

Trump’s statement sharply contrasted with Biden’s pledge “to defend every inch of NATO territory.” President Biden accused Trump on Tuesday of having “bowed down to a Russian dictator.”

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In the interview, Putin described NATO as a “U.S. foreign policy tool,” adding that “if the U.S. thinks that it no longer needs this tool it’s up to it to decide.”

Asked about speculation on President Biden's health issues, Putin responded that “I'm not a doctor and I don't consider it proper to comment on that.” He added that President Biden seemed in fine shape when the two leaders met in Switzerland in June 2021.

Biden’s team has worked to alleviate Democratic concerns over alarms raised by a special counsel about Biden’s age and memory. They came in a report determining that Biden would not be charged with any criminal activity for possessing classified documents while a private citizen.

Asked about his impressions from his last week's interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Putin said he expected Carlson to be more aggressive. Putin used the interview to push his narrative on the fighting in Ukraine, urge Washington to recognize Moscow’s interests and press Kyiv to sit down for talks.

Carlson didn’t ask Putin about war crimes Russian troops have been accused of in Ukraine, or about his relentless crackdown on dissent.

“I expected him to be aggressive and ask the so-called tough questions, and I wasn't only ready for it but wanted it because it would have given me a chance to respond sharply,” Putin said.