Putin Sticks to Praise for Trump’s Pledge to Mend Russia Ties

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Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, speaks to business leaders on day two of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016 (SPIEF) on June 17, 2016.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
  • Kremlin head says he won’t interfere in U.S. domestic politics
  • Russia will work with any president elected by U.S. people

President Vladimir Putin reiterated his praise for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s pledge to restore cooperation between Russia and the U.S., while insisting that he isn’t expressing a preference for who wins the election.

Trump bragged that Putin had called him a “genius” after the Russian leader in December responded to a reporter’s question by calling him a “very colorful and talented man” who wanted to move Russia-U.S. ties to a “deeper level.”

“Isn’t he colorful? He’s colorful. I didn’t ascribe to him any other qualities,” Putin said on Friday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. “But we never interfere in other countries’ internal politics, especially the U.S. We’re ready to work with any president that the U.S. people vote for.”

At the same time, Putin said he welcomed Trump’s pledge for a “full-scale resumption” of Russian-U.S. ties.

Democratic contender Hillary Clinton is likely to provoke worsening tensions with Russia if she becomes president, according to Konstantin Kosachyov, the head of the Russian upper house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee. While Trump offers the tantalizing prospect of better relations, he’s also scarily unpredictable, Kosachyov said in an interview.

The billionaire businessman has held out an olive branch promising cooperation with Putin while also warning that he’d shoot down Russian planes that challenge the U.S. military if he becomes president in November’s elections.

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