Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday clarified his opinion of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and said Russia will work with whomever U.S. voters elect.
Putin’s comments came as he participated in a panel discussion moderated by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the 20th International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Zakaria read some comments from Putin, who said he never called Trump “brilliant” and told the reporter he had changed his comments. Zakaria then explained he was reading a translation of Putin’s comments.
Putin described Trump as a “flamboyant” or “colorful” man, using a Russian word capable of multiple meanings.
“You see, it’s like I said,” Putin said. “Trump’s a colorful person. And well, isn’t he colorful? Colorful. I didn’t make any other kind of characterization about him.”
“But here’s where I will pay close attention, and where I exactly welcome and where on the contrary I don’t see anything bad: Mr. Trump has declared that he’s ready for the full restoration of Russian-American relations. Is there anything bad there? We all welcome this, don’t you?”
As for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Putin said, “She probably has her own view of U.S.-Russian relations.”
Putin also noted Friday that Russia would not “meddle” in the domestic affairs of another country.
He said that he respects America’s strength, but wants limits upon its influence.
“America is a great power,” he said. “Today, probably, the only superpower. We accept that. We want to and are ready to work with the United States.”
Then came the catch.
“The world needs such strong nations, like the U.S. And we need them. But we don’t need them constantly getting mixed up in our affairs, instructing us how to live, preventing Europe from building a relationship with us,” he added.