Vladimir Putin Calls Trump 'a Colorful Individual' and 'Radically Different' from Biden

While in office, Donald Trump was often effusive in his praise of Russia's autocratic leader

Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden, Donald Trump
From left: Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty; Anna Moneymaker/Getty; Tasos Katopodis/Getty

Russian President Vladimir Putin shared his differing opinions of President Joe Biden and Biden's predecessor in an interview with NBC this week - calling former President Donald Trump a "colorful individual."

In the Friday interview, Putin, 68, said that Trump, 75, was "radically different" from current president - though he didn't necessarily mean it as a swipe on the former head of state, given his unusual affinity for Trump.

"Even now, I believe that former U.S. President Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. president," Putin told NBC News in Moscow, speaking through a translator. "He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not ... but he didn't come from the U.S. establishment."

Putin continued: "He had not been part of big-time politics before, and some like it, some don't like it, but that is a fact. President Biden, of course, is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics."

Noting the number of years Biden, 78, "spent in the Senate and how many years he was involved in the matters of international politics and disarmament, virtually at the expert level," Putin said the current American president is "a different kind of person" than his predecessor.

In a nod to the sharper disagreements between Putin's government and the Biden administration, compared to Trump, he said:

"It is my great hope that yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any knee-jerk reactions on behalf of the sitting U.S. president. That we will be able to comply with certain rules of engagement, certain rules of communications and will be able to find points of contact and common points."

While in office, Trump was often effusive in his praise and admiration of the Russian autocrat, calling Putin "very smart," saying he "has very strong control over a country" and saying the two "got along well."

But the Kremlin drew denunciation from other officials, including for how Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to support Trump - a conclusion broadly supported by U.S. intelligence authorities though Russia has denied it.

The FBI opened an investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the election, a case that sprawled outward and garnered some 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas and five prison sentences.

Former Attorney General William Barr ultimately decided not to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice in connection with Trump's efforts to curtail the special investigation.

Biden, meanwhile, hasn't held back from his very different opinion on the Russian president, saying in an interview with ABC News that aired in March that he believes Putin is a "killer."

"He had a long talk, he and I," Biden told George Stephanopoulos. "I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off - I said, 'I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.' "

Asked by Stephanopoulos whether he had once told Putin that he "does not have a soul," as had been previously reported, Biden confirmed "[I] did say that to him, yes."

"I wasn't being a wise guy. I was alone with him in his office, that's how it came about," Biden said. "It was when President Bush had said, 'I've looked in his eyes and saw his soul.' I said, 'I looked in your eyes, and I don't think you have a soul.' He looked back and he said, 'We understand each other.' "

Asked whether he thought Putin was "a killer," Biden responded: "Mmmhmm, I do ... The price he's gonna pay, well, you'll see shortly."

In response to those remarks, Putin told NBC News that he was used to being attacked, reportedly chuckling when asked about Biden's comments.

"Over my tenure, I've gotten used to attacks from all different angles ... This is not something I worry about," Putin said.

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