Putin Praises Trump As ‘Absolute Leader’ In GOP Presidential Race

Anatoly Maltsev/POOL EPA

Russian president Vladimir Putin offered up glowing praise for “talented” Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump while speaking to reporters after his annual year-end news conference, NBC reported Thursday.

“He is a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt about it,” Putin said, according to NBC. “It is not up to us to appraise his positive sides, it is up to the U.S. voters. But, as we can see, he is an absolute leader in the presidential race.”

The admiration is apparently mutual. In July, Trump told reporters in Scotland that he thinks he “would get along very well with Vladimir Putin” because both men shared an antipathy towards President Barack Obama. Trump has repeatedly praised the Russian leader’s “toughness” and promised that he could be the one to warm the frosty relationship between Russia and the U.S.

Putin suggested in his Thursday press conference that he was open to improving ties, too.

Referring to Trump, Putin said: “He is saying that he wants to move to a different level of relations with Russia, to a closer, deeper one. How can we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome that.”

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