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Putin says a Biden presidency is better for Russia than a Trump one

By Mariya Knight and Nathan Hodge, CNN

(CNN) — A Joe Biden presidency would be better for Russia than a Donald Trump one, Russian President Vladimir Putin told pro-Kremlin journalist Pavel Zarubin in an on-camera interview Wednesday.

Asked by Zuribin about the upcoming US presidential election, Putin said Biden would be better for Russia “because he is a more experienced person, he is predictable, he is a politician of an old formation.”

However, he added that Russia would “work with any leader of the US that gains the trust of the American people.”

Putin has a tradition of pontificating on US presidential politics.

In late 2015, the Kremlin leader praised Donald Trump as “a bright and talented person without any doubt,” and cast Trump as the front-runner for the election months ahead of the Republican National Convention.

The Russian president also did little to conceal his dislike of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Putin would go on to deny Russian interference in the 2016 election and gloated in an interview about the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee, saying “there is nothing false about it, every single grain of it is true. And the Democratic leadership admitted it.”

US President Joe Biden has not minced words about Putin since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, calling the Russian leader a war criminal – something Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described as “absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable.”

The Russian leader’s comments also come in the wake of Trump telling a campaign rally he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to any NATO member country that doesn’t meet spending guidelines, something NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said put European and American soldiers at an increased risk.

Trump’s pledge – if delivered – would overturn the collective defense clause at the heart of the alliance. Putin has long criticized NATO and opposes its expansion.

In his interview, the Russian president said he regretted that he “didn’t start active actions in Ukraine earlier” than February 2022, claiming that Western leaders had lied to Russia about “not expanding NATO to the East.”

“We were and are concerned about the possibility of Ukraine being drawn into NATO, since this threatens our security,” Putin said.

Putin ‘didn’t fully enjoy’ Carlson interview

Putin also said that in order to judge the actions of the current US administration one should look at its “political position.”

“I believe that the position of the current administration is extremely harmful and erroneous,” Putin said in a reference to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

According to Putin, that war “could have been over a year and a half ago” if agreements during a meeting in Istanbul in March 2022 were kept.

Putin didn’t specify what agreements he was referring to, but he has in the past referred to a series of bilateral talks that took place between Russia and Ukraine in the weeks after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, suggesting a deal was in place.

Those talks eventually faltered, and Ukrainian public opinion hardened against compromise with Russia after the uncovering of the mass killings of civilians by Russian forces in the town of Bucha and other liberated areas of Ukraine.

Putin also alleged that the Minsk agreements, a ceasefire protocol signed by Ukraine and Russia in 2015, was never meant to be kept but used “to buy time to load Ukraine with additional weapons.”

The Minsk agreements called for the removal of heavy weaponry from Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, constitutional reform in Ukraine as well as the restoration of Ukrainian control of its state borders, among other things.

The order in which those measures would be implemented was never fixed, lower-level fighting continued and a so-called line of contact between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists remained largely stable between 2015 and 2022.

The US and its allies only ramped up military support to Ukraine significantly on the eve of the February 2022 invasion, as Russian forces massed around Ukraine’s borders, in particular rushing deliveries of anti-tank weaponry.

In his recent interview with far-right media figure Tucker Carlson, Putin said the US could “come to an agreement with Russia” on Ukraine, a suggestion that appeared to imply that an agreement could be brokered over the heads of the Ukrainians.

The Russian leader also expressed disappointment with Carlson. dismissively referring to the media personality’s interviewing style.

“I honestly thought he would be aggressive and ask tough questions. I wasn’t only ready for that, I wanted that, because it would give me the opportunity to give tough answers back,” Putin said.

“To be frank, I didn’t fully enjoy that interview,” he said.

This story has been updated with additional information and context.

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