Putin claims he favors "more predictable" Biden over Trump

Moscow — President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia would prefer to see President Joe Biden win a second term, describing him as more experienced than Donald Trump

Speaking in an interview with a correspondent from Russian state television, Putin declared that he will work with any U.S. leader who is elected, but noted that he would prefer a Biden victory when asked who would be a better choice from the point of view of Russia.

“Biden, he’s more experienced, more predictable, he’s a politician of the old formation,” Putin said. “But we will work with any U.S. leader whom the American people trust.”

Russia's President Putin gives interview in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin during an interview with journalist Pavel Zarubin in Moscow on Feb. 14, 2024.

Sputnik / Alexander Kazakov / Pool via REUTERS

Putin’s comments were his first about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, likely to pit Mr. Biden against Trump, and come as tensions between Republicans and Democrats are high over Mr. Biden’s attempts to send more military aid to Kyiv.

Putin on controversial Trump comments  

However, Trump’s recent statements calling into question U.S. funding for Ukraine and saying he wants to shake up the NATO alliance could better serve Putin. Mr. Biden accused Trump on Tuesday of having “bowed down to a Russian dictator.”

Asked about Trump’s Saturday statement, in which he said he once warned he would allow Russia to do whatever it wants to NATO member nations that are “delinquent” in devoting 2% of their gross domestic product to defense, Putin responded that it’s up to the U.S. to determine its role in the alliance.

Trump’s statement sharply contrasted with Mr. Biden’s pledge “to defend every inch of NATO territory,” as the alliance commits all members to do in case of attack. It shocked many in Europe, drawing a pledge from Poland, France and Germany to bolster Europe’s security and defense power.

Putin noted that Trump’s statement was in line with his policy during his first term when he prodded NATO allies in Europe to increase their defense spending.

“He has his own view on how relations with allies should develop,” Putin said about Trump. “From his point of view, there is some logic in this, while from the point of view of the Europeans, there is no logic at all, and they would like the U.S. to keep carrying out some functions they have fulfilled since the formation of NATO free of charge.”

Biden condemns Trump for threatening to abandon NATO allies


Speaking at a campaign rally in South Carolina Wednesday evening, Trump again said that if he returns to the White House, he wouldn’t defend NATO members that don’t meet defense spending targets.

Trump retold the story of his alleged conversation with the head of a NATO member country that had not met its obligations. This time, though, he left out the line that drew the most outrage – that he would encourage Russia “to do whatever the hell they want.”

“Look, if they’re not going to pay, we’re not going to protect. OK?” he said Wednesday.

Trump also revised his comments about Putin, whom he has often praised as tough and previously suggested treated him like the “apple of his eye.”

Instead, Trump pointed to Putin’s Wednesday interview and said, “Putin is not a fan of mine.”

Bloomberg News quotes Trump as adding that by praising Mr. Biden, Putin “has just given me a great compliment. That’s a good thing.”

Putin on Biden’s health and Russia’s war with Ukraine

Asked about speculation on Mr. Biden’s health issues, Putin responded that “I’m not a doctor and I don’t consider it proper to comment on that.”

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

Putin noted that the talk about Mr. Biden’s health comes as “the election campaign is gaining speed in the U.S., and it’s taking an increasingly sharp course.”

He added that allegations of Mr. Biden’s health problems were also circulating at the time when they met in Switzerland in June 2021, adding that he witnessed the contrary and saw a U.S. leader in good shape.

“They talked about him being incapacitated, but I saw nothing of the kind,” Putin said. “Yes, he was peeking at his papers, to be honest, I was peeking at mine, not a big deal.”

At the same time, Putin noted that he sees Biden administration policy as wrong.

Russia-West ties have plunged to their lowest levels since the Cold War era after Putin sent his troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

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

Putin has claimed that he has 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 NATO. Ukraine and its Western allies have denounced Moscow’s action as an unprovoked act of aggression.

Putin argued that Moscow was forced to act after Ukraine and its allies refused to fulfill a 2015 agreement to grant more powers to separatist territories in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists launched a rebellion in 2014.

“We only can regret that we didn’t act earlier, thinking that we are dealing with decent people,” Putin said.

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.”

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates responded to Trump’s comments by saying that “encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged – and it endangers American national security, global stability, and our economy at home.”

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.

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