Putin says he prefers ‘more predictable’ Biden over Trump


Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia February 13, 2024. Sputnik/Alexander Kazakov/Pool via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters/SPUTNIK

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday that he preferred Joe Biden to Donald Trump but was willing to work with any U.S. president. Putin was asked by interviewer Pavel Zarubin who was “better for us” out of Biden, a Democrat, and Trump, a Republican.

Putin replied without hesitation: “Biden. He is a more experienced, predictable person, a politician of the old school.”

Smiling slightly, he added: “But we will work with any U.S. president who the American people have confidence in.”

It was the first time Putin had publicly commented on the 2024 U.S. election race in which Biden and Trump are expected to face each other for the second successive time.

At a time of high political uncertainty in the U.S., and with relations between the two countries at their lowest point for more than 60 years, his comments were more likely to be perceived as mischief-making than taken at face value.

Biden has led the Western response to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, including the expansion of the NATO alliance, the imposition of successive waves of sanctions on Moscow and the provision of billions of dollars’ worth of aid and weapons to Kyiv.

Based on Trump’s reluctance to criticize Putin in his first term and his more recent comments – including a weekend interview where he said he would encourage Russia to attack NATO members that failed to spend enough on their own defense – his many critics believe he would give the Kremlin leader a much easier ride.

Putin allowed himself to opine on the two candidates, and even to discuss the sensitive issue of Biden’s mental fitness, despite saying it would be wrong to interfere in the campaign.

“When I met with Biden in Switzerland – true, that was several years, three years ago – people were already saying he wasn’t up to it. I didn’t see anything of the kind,” Putin said.

While appearing to defend Biden, he brought up an episode that embarrassed the U.S. leader, when he banged his head while getting out of a helicopter in June last year.

“Well, which of us hasn’t banged his head somewhere?” Putin said.

Trump, he said, “has been called a non-systemic politician; he has his own view on the topic of how the United States should develop relations with its allies.”

Putin has been in power as president or prime minister since 1999, but at 71 he is a decade younger than Biden and six years younger than Trump. He is certain to win a new six-year term in an election next month, from which two candidates who opposed the war in Ukraine have been disqualified for presenting invalid documentation.

In 2020, a report by the U.S. Senate intelligence committee found Russia had tried to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election in order to help Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton.

Putin also said he was surprised by a lack of sharp questions from U.S. television host Tucker Carlson in an interview that made headlines around the world last week.

Putin told Zarubin, that he had wanted Carlson to behave more aggressively, which would have given him the right to reply just as pointedly.

“To be honest, I thought that he would behave aggressively and ask so-called sharp questions. I was not just prepared for this, I wanted it, because it would give me the opportunity to respond in the same way,” Putin said.

In his first interview with an American journalist since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago, Putin subjected Carlson to a half-hour lecture on history.

He told Zarubin he was surprised that Carlson had not interrupted him more.

“Frankly, I did not get full satisfaction from this interview,” Putin said.

The Kremlin said Putin had agreed to the Carlson interview because the approach of the former Fox News host differed from the “one-sided” reporting of the Ukraine conflict by many Western news outlets.

By Reuters

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