Russian President Vladimir Putin called former president Donald Trump an “extraordinary individual” but says he can work with President Joe Biden in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
Speaking to NBC’s Keir Simmons, Putin compared the two presidents and said the relations between Russia and the United States are at an all-time low ahead of Biden’s meeting with Putin next week.
Putin said Biden “is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics.”
“That’s a different kind of person, and it is my great hope that yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements, on behalf of the sitting U.S. president,” he said.
Trump has been highly criticized for his July 2018 meeting with Putin in Helsinki, where he refused to side with U.S. intelligence agencies over interference in the 2016 election and took the Russian president at his word.
“Well even now, I believe that former U.S. president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. President,” Putin said. “He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn’t come from the U.S. establishment, he had not been part of big time politics before, and some like it some don’t like it but that is a fact.”
Biden has not been shy about mincing words about Putin, saying he doesn’t “have a soul” during a visit to Russia when he was vice president in 2011. When speaking in Britain earlier this week, Biden said he plans to tell Putin “what I need him to know”.
Putin was pressed by Simmons about being a “killer” but the Kremlin leader smirked and gave a non-answer to the question.
“Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext, and reasons and of different caliber and fierceness and none of it surprises me,” Putin said.
When Simmons mentioned specific names and incidents, Putin’s attitude visibly changed and his tone got dark.
“Look, you know, I don’t want to come across as being rude, but this looks like some kind of indigestion except that it’s verbal indigestion. You’ve mentioned many individuals who indeed suffered and perished at different points in time for various reasons, at the hands of different individuals,” he said.