Putin says he prefers Biden to Trump

President Vladimir V. Putin said Wednesday that it is in Russia’s interests for President Biden to win a second term his American counterpart is experienced and predictable and dismisses concerns about Mr Biden’s age.

It was the first time Putin had directly expressed a preference ahead of November’s US presidential election, and the comments ran counter to widespread speculation that the Kremlin was rooting for former President Donald J. Trump, the favorite to win. be the Republican candidate. Putin made the comments in a brief interview with Russian state television released Wednesday evening.

“Who is better for us: Biden or Trump?” asked the interviewer.

“Biden,” Putin replied. “He is a person with more experience, he is predictable, he is an old school politician.”

Putin added, with a smile: “But we will work with any American leader in whom the American people have confidence.”

Some commentators were quick to dismiss Putin’s comments as a provocation or perhaps an indirect attempt to burden Biden’s campaign by peddling him with the support of one of America’s main adversaries.

It was also the latest in a series of comments from Putin that appeared aimed at keeping tensions with the United States in check, coming at a time when other developments – such as nervousness over Russia’s possible plans to deploy a nuclear weapon space – threatens to exacerbate tensions in relations between countries.

Trump stunned politicians last week when he said he would call on Russia “to do whatever the hell it wants” against NATO member countries that had failed to meet their military spending commitments.

Referring to Trump’s comments, Putin said in Wednesday’s interview: “Let them figure it out for themselves: This is their problem.”

“I think NATO no longer makes sense, it makes no sense,” Putin added. “It has only one purpose: to be an instrument of American foreign policy.”

Asked later about Biden’s health, Putin defended his American counterpart, even though Russian state media often echoes Republicans in denigrating Biden as too old for his job. When he met Biden in Switzerland in 2021, Putin said: “they were already saying that he was incompetent. “I haven’t seen anything like it.”

The comment was Putin’s latest on American politics and appeared, at least superficially, to extend an olive branch to the Biden administration. In his interview last week with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Putin refrained from directly criticizing Biden and said little about Trump, while calling on Washington to negotiate on Ukraine – a suggestion quickly rejected by the White House. .

(In comments on Wednesday, Putin also criticized Carlson, describing his surprise that Carlson had patiently “listened to my long dialogues” and had not asked “difficult questions.”)

Even some Putin supporters, however, questioned whether the Russian leader was sincere in his praise for Biden. One post by a pro-Kremlin blogger called the interview a “fantastic midnight trolling session” that may have been intended to benefit Trump, given that Putin’s support is not necessarily advantageous in American politics.

Indeed, Mr. Trump he said at a campaign event on Wednesday that Putin had paid him a “compliment”.

“Of course he would say that,” Trump said. “He wants to have Biden because he will be given everything.”

When he was president, Trump drew harsh criticism from Democrats for being overly solicitous about Russia and Putin. This was especially true after the 2018 Helsinki summit, where Trump chose to support Putin rather than the American intelligence agencies themselves. before trying to go back.

Russia interfered before the 2016 election to help Trump, concluded the American intelligence community, while Putin publicly called Trump “a very bright and talented man.” But afterward, there was widespread disappointment in Moscow that Trump had not delivered on his campaign rhetoric about improving ties with Russia.

When asked about Trump in September, Said Mr. Putin“I think there will be no fundamental changes in the direction of American foreign policy on the part of Russia, regardless of who is elected president.”

Oleg Matsnev contributed to the reporting.