Former President Donald Trump is an “extraordinary, talented individual,” President Biden is a “career man” in government, and Russia would appreciate a little more “stability and predictability” in U.S. foreign policy, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his first interview with an American broadcast outlet in three years.
Just days before Mr. Putin meets Mr. Biden for a much-anticipated one-day summit in Geneva, the Russian leader expounded on a variety of topics in a 90-minute interview with NBC News.
Mr. Biden is expected to present Wednesday a lengthy list of complaints about the Kremlin’s behavior on cyberhacking, Ukraine and the state of civil liberties in Russia, but Mr. Putin made it clear he has his own problems with the U.S.
“The most important value in international affairs is predictability and stability,” Mr. Putin said, “and I believe that on the part of our U.S. partners, this is something that we haven’t seen in recent years.”
He cited what he said were U.S. policy U-turns over the past decade on Libya, Syria and Ukraine, and expressed hope that Mr. Biden’s deep experience in government could be a plus, even if bilateral relations remain frosty.
“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,” Mr. Putin said.
The onetime KGB officer who has ruled Russia for two decades brushed off Mr. Biden’s recent endorsement of the view that he was a “killer,” a remark that led the Kremlin to recall its ambassador to Washington for consultations.
“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 none of it surprises me,” Mr. Putin said.
He also had warm words for Mr. Trump, who faced repeated criticism during his term for not taking a tougher stance against the Russian leader.
Mr. Trump is a “colorful individual,” Mr. Putin said. “You may like him or not, but he didn’t come from the U.S. establishment.”
In the interview, Mr. Putin denied that Russia was the source of a string of recent “ransomware” attacks in the U.S., said that jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny “will not be treated any worse than anybody else” and observed that there were “some grounds” for the Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. while not condoning “extreme” behavior.
“We have always treated with understanding the fight of African Americans for their rights,” the Russian leader contended.