Putin says Biden is better for Russia than a Trump presidency © Provided by NBC News

Putin says Biden is better for Russia than a Trump presidency © Provided by NBC News

President Joe Biden has been handed an endorsement from an unexpected and perhaps unwelcome source: The Kremlin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his country would prefer to see the “more experienced” Biden in the White House for a second term than the Republican frontrunner, former President Donald Trump.

The comments, which may be taken more as mischievous meddling than serious statecraft, were the Russian leader’s most direct in public on the upcoming U.S. presidential election. They were welcomed by Trump but dismissed by the White House, which urged Putin to “stay out” of the election.

In an interview with Russian propagandist reporter Pavel Zarubin released Wednesday night, Putin did not hesitate when asked whether Biden or Trump was better for Russia.

“Biden,” Putin said. “He is a more experienced, predictable person, an old-school politician.”

But, he added, Moscow will work with any U.S. leader who has the trust of the American people.

The video of the interview was shared by Zarubin on his Telegram channel, and the transcript of Putin’s comments was published on the Kremlin’s website.

In the interview, Putin also touched on speculation around Biden’s mental fitness, saying he did not have the right to comment on the issue but that he did not notice anything out-of-the-ordinary during the leaders’ meeting in Geneva in 2021.

“People were already saying then that he wasn’t up to it. I didn’t see anything of the kind,” Putin said.

The White House responded to the Russian leader’s intervention Thursday morning. “Mr. Putin should stay out of America’s elections,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates.

Biden has long been open in his criticism of Putin, previously calling the Russian leader a “killer,” “murderous dictator” and “pure thug.” He spearheaded the Western response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, including tough economic sanctions.

The U.S. has also been supplying Ukraine’s military with billions of dollars in crucial supplies, and Putin’s intervention comes as the White House pushes the GOP-led House to vote through a new package of aid for Kyiv.

Trump, in contrast, has often been complimentary of Putin and praised him as a tough leader. A Senate intelligence report found “extensive” Russian interference in the 2016 election that Trump won.

The former president set off alarm bells in Europe after telling an election rally last weekend that he would encourage Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” if it attacked a NATO country that didn’t pay enough for defense.

The Republican frontrunner stood by his comments at a rally on Wednesday night. He also responded to Putin’s stated preference for Biden, calling it a “great compliment” and adding that “Putin is not a fan of mine.”

Putin has previously blamed NATO and the bloc’s expansion to the east for ultimately precipitating his attack on Ukraine. Biden has pledged staunch support for America’s NATO allies and accused Trump on Tuesday of having “bowed down to a Russian dictator.”

Putin said in the interview that Trump has always been perceived as a “non-systemic politician” with “his own view” on how the U.S. should develop relations with allies.

A week earlier, in a much-talked-about interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Putin said he had “a personal relationship” with Trump, but could not remember the last time he talked to Biden. “It’s not about the personality of the leader — it’s about the mood of the elites,” Putin said when asked whether it matters who is in charge in Washington for better relations with Russia.

Addressing the interview with Carlson, Putin said Wednesday that he was surprised by the lack of “sharp questions” from the conservative commentator.

He said he expected Carlson to be more “aggressive” and interrupt him more, so that he could respond more pointedly. Carlson did not press Putin on many issues sensitive for the Kremlin, including crackdown on dissent or alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

“Frankly speaking, I did not fully enjoy this interview,” Putin said.

Source:  NBCNews.com