Vladimir Putin Praises Donald Trump, Sealing a Long-Distance Bromance
One is the leader of a declining superpower that is trying to reassert itself militarily. The other wants to “make America great again.” And the two have a budding bromance that transcends the tense relationship between the two nations.
On Thursday, Donald J. Trump appeared to pick up an endorsement from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. After his year-ending press conference in Moscow, Mr. Putin heaped praise on the bombastic Republican candidate, calling Mr. Trump “a very bright and talented man” and “the absolute leader of the presidential race.”
Mr. Putin has had a tense and complicated relationship with the United States in recent years, frequently drawing the ire of President Obama for events like Russia’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine and support of the Assad regime in Syria.
But Mr. Trump seems to be a fan of Mr. Putin, frequently praising his strength and suggesting that they would work well together. He has welcomed Russia’s entry into Syria, boasted that both he and Mr. Putin got good ratings on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program, and has said that he gives Mr. Putin stronger marks for leadership than Mr. Obama.
“I think that I would probably get along with him very well,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Putin in October. “And I don’t think you’d be having the kind of problems that you’re having right now.”
Mr. Trump was even more fawning in June when he praised Mr. Putin’s performance as Russia’s president.
“He’s got a tremendous popularity in Russia — they love what he’s doing, they love what he represents,” Mr. Trump told Fox News. ” I was over in Moscow two years ago and I will tell you — you can get along with those people and get along with them well. You can make deals with those people.”
The long-distance admiration between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump is not completely surprising, as Mr. Trump has sought to project toughness throughout his campaign. Mr. Putin, a hockey-playing judo expert who can be found riding horses shirtless, projects a similar image in his own way.
Mr. Trump’s pro-Russia sentiment has not gone unnoticed there in recent months. In October, Andrey Rostenko, the mayor of Yalta in Crimea, welcomed the billionaire developer to visit the city.
“We are following the elections process in your country with great interest,” Mr. Rostenko wrote in an open letter, according to RT, the government-backed television network. “We like your election program and we like you as an extraordinary person.”
Mr. Rostenko went on to praise Mr. Trump’s embrace of the Russian president: “After your victory in the election you plan to establish friendly relations with President Putin – and this is an excellent decision.”
Scholars in Russia say that despite their strongman sensibilities, the similarities between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin are few. Keith Darden, a professor at American University who specializes in the politics of Russia, noted that Mr. Trump was born to a rich family and has spent his career running his own company, while Mr. Putin started his career in Soviet intelligence and rose through the ranks of Russia’s political bureaucracy. Both famously appreciate the art of deal-making and strategic thinking, Mr. Darden pointed out, adding that Mr. Putin is more disciplined and careful when speaking publicly.
The Republicans’ insurgent presidential campaign has clearly caught Mr. Putin’s eye. Mr. Trump has been fiercely critical of America’s foreign policy, and Mr. Obama — he has called the current United States president and some of his policies “a disaster.” Thursday’s comments suggest that Mr. Putin might agree, but he hesitated to meddle too much in American politics.
“He wants to move to a different level of relations, to more solid, deeper relations with Russia,” Mr. Putin said of Mr. Trump in a video captured by ABC News, welcoming such outreach. “As for his internal political issues and his turns of speech which he uses to raise his popularity, I repeat, it’s not our job to judge them.”
Mr. Trump embraced Mr. Putin’s praise on Thursday evening.
“It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond,” he said in a statement. “I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect.”
Putin Praises Trump in Year-End Address
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said on Thursday that Moscow wanted to develop ties with U.S. and welcomed the Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump’s calls for deeper ties with Russia.