Clinton added that Putin is "highly intelligent," but that his patriotism hurt ordinary Russian citizens.
"I think he's got a sort of fatalistic view of the misfortunes that befall ordinary people when larger things are at stake," he said. "I think the largest things that are at stake are the things that befall ordinary people."
And while Clinton called Crimea's referendum to secede from Ukraine and join Russia a "farce," he also explained it was a "special case."
"Crimea is a special case because Krushchev gave it to Ukraine in '52 thinking Moscow would always run the whole show anyway," he said.