US the 'only superpower' - Putin

  • 18/06/2016
US the 'only superpower' - Putin

President Vladimir Putin says he accepts the United States is probably still the world's sole superpower and he's ready to work with whoever wins the presidency, but doesn't want to be told how to live by Americans.

Mr Putin's comments follow a rocky period in US-Russia relations, which have been undermined by disagreements over issues such as Ukraine and Syria.

Mr Putin on Friday reiterated criticism of what he said was the misguided role of the United States in Ukraine's affairs and said he opposed what he cast as US efforts to prevent Russia repairing its relations with the European Union.

But he had some positive words too.

"America is a great power -- today probably the only superpower. We accept that," Mr Putin said at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. "We want to and are ready to work with the United States."

Asked about Donald Trump, Mr Putin appeared to play down positive comments he had made about the Republican contender in the past, saying those had been misinterpreted.

In December, Mr Putin described Mr Trump as "very flamboyant", "very talented" and "an absolute leader in the presidential race".

Those comments, along with warm words from Mr Trump about Mr Putin, have fuelled speculation the Kremlin would be pleased to see Mr Trump in the White House.

But on Friday Mr Putin said he had only described Mr Trump as "flamboyant".

"He is, isn't he?" said Mr Putin with a smile. "I did not give any other assessment of him."

Mr Putin said he welcomed Mr Trump's desire to restore US-Russia ties. "What's wrong with that?" Mr Putin asked, drawing applause from the audience.

He appeared keen however to hedge Russia's bets by avoiding the impression he was taking sides, and also emphasised his "warm relations" with former US President Bill Clinton, whose wife Hillary is running for the White House.

Mr Putin said he was grateful for the attention and respect Bill Clinton had shown to Russia and Mr Putin personally.

He had less to say about Hillary Clinton though, saying he had never worked with her directly.