KEY POINTS

  • Trump has previously sided with Putin over possible Russian interference in the 2016 election
  • Putin denied ordering the hit on opposition leader Alexei Navalny
  • Biden and Putin are expected to discuss about Navalny and other issues on Wednesday

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday praised former President Donald Trump in an interview conducted ahead of his upcoming meeting with President Joe Biden. 

In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Keir Simmons, the Russian president was asked to compare Trump to Biden, the latter of whom he is scheduled to meet in person this Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland. 

“President Biden is — is not President Trump. You once described President Trump as a bright person, talented. How would you describe President Biden?” Simmons prompted.

“Well even now, I believe that former U.S. president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual talented individual, otherwise he would not have become US President. He is a colorful individual,” Putin replied. 

“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,” he added.

Trump and Putin have had a controversial relationship during the U.S. leader’s term. In 2018, Trump and Putin appeared in a joint press conference in which the former U.S. president publicly dismissed U.S. intelligence reports saying Moscow interfered in the 2016 election after the Russian leader said they played no role in it. 

“My people came to me, Dan Coates, came to me and some others they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server but I have, I have confidence in both parties,” Trump said.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today and what he did is an incredible offer.”

During the interview with Simmons, Putin also denied theories that he ordered a hit on opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who survived being poisoned with a nerve agent in August of 2020. The Russian leader also said he could not guarantee that his political rival would get out of prison alive. 

“Look— such decisions in this country are not made by the president. They're made by the court whether or not to set somebody free,” he told Simmons. 

Navalny’s imprisonment is expected to be one of the many points to be discussed by the two world leaders during Wednesday’s meeting. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with journalist of NBC News Keir Simmons in Moscow on June 11, 2021 Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with journalist of NBC News Keir Simmons in Moscow on June 11, 2021 Photo: SPUTNIK / Maxim Blinov