Speaking Friday at Russia’s top economic forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Donald Trump, calling the presumptive Republican nominee bright—a word he has used to describe Trump before.
The Russian President also said that he appreciated Trump’s promise to turn a new page in U.S. relations with Russia, saying that he would work constructively with whichever candidate wins the U.S. presidential election.
He added that he has noted Trump’s statement that he’s ready to establish a full-fledged dialogue with Russia.
Asked about his view of Hillary Clinton, Putin did not comment directly, but instead spoke highly of Bill Clinton, saying he was grateful to him for his help.
Putin and Trump have previously praised each other, with the Russian president calling Trump “a very colorful person,” “talented, without any doubt,” and “very bright” in December.
Trump returned the praise in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
“I always felt fine about Putin,” Trump said. “I think that he’s a strong leader. He’s a powerful leader … He’s actually got a popularity within his country. They respect him as a leader.”
When host Joe Scarborough said that Putin is also a person who “kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries,” Trump pivoted, taking a shot at President Obama’s leadership.
“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader,” Trump replied. “Unlike what we have in this country.”
“If he [Putin] says something positive, that’s a good thing. That’s not a bad thing,” Trump said at a December rally, suggesting the U.S. and Russia should work closer together.
“This would be good, this would be a great start.”
At the same economic forum, Putin also came out against what he described as NATO’s continued expansion, and said that U.S.-led NATO missile defense plans pose a threat to Russia.
Donald Trump has also promoted the idea of a diminished role for the United States in NATO, calling the organization “obsolete” in March.
N.A.T.O. is obsolete and must be changed to additionally focus on terrorism as well as some of the things it is currently focused on!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016