International Relationship

Putin says Biden would be better for Russia as president than Trump

Feb 18, 2024
Russian president also dismissed criticism of Joe Biden’s mental fitness.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday Joe Biden would be better for Russia as president than Donald Trump, ahead of a potential rematch between the two in this year’s U.S. election.

“[Biden] is a more experienced, predictable person. He is a politician of the old school. But we will work with any leader of the United States, who is trusted by the American people,” Putin said in an interview on broadcaster Rossiya 1 TV when asked to choose between the two.

Trump faced criticism during his presidency for his friendly relationship with Putin and recently stirred controversy by saying he’d “encourage” Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to NATO allies that don’t meet defense spending targets. The Russian leader has previously also dismissed evidence that his country meddled in the 2016 vote to elect Trump.

Putin used Wednesday’s interview to downplay speculation about Biden’s cognitive health, recalling when the two met in Switzerland in June 2021, less than a year before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“When I met with Biden in Switzerland — it was, indeed, a few years ago, three years — even then there were talks about him being incompetent. I saw nothing of the sort. Yes, he glanced at his notes. Honestly, I glanced at mine too,” Putin said. “There’s nothing to it.”

Putin said he is less concerned with his U.S. counterpart’s health than with Washington’s political position, which he said was “extremely harmful and erroneous.”

Trump, and Biden’s other Republican opponents, have seized on the president’s mental abilities to argue he isn’t fit to continue to hold office after a series of gaffes confusing world leaders and a recent Justice Department special counsel report that described him as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Trump himself has faced questions about his age and mental acuity, with Biden’s campaign suggesting the former president may be struggling with diminished cognition and frequently calling him “confused.”

 “Mr. Putin should stay out of America’s elections,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates.

Gregory Svirnovskiy, Sergey Goryashko and Jonathan Lemire contributed reporting.