President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia sauntered into American presidential politics on Thursday, praising President Obama as “a very honest man” and chastising the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, for describing Russia as “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”
Mr. Putin was asked about the presidential race during an interview with the state-controlled television network RT. The interview was recorded earlier this week but broadcast on Thursday to coincide with Mr. Putin’s arrival in Vladivostok for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit conference, which is being held in Russia for the first time.
Mr. Putin said he believed that if Mr. Obama is re-elected in November, a compromise could be reached on the contentious issue of American plans for a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia has strongly opposed.
On the other hand, Mr. Putin said, if Mr. Romney becomes president, Moscow’s fears about the missile system — that it is, despite American assurances, actually directed against Russia — would almost certainly prove true.
“Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current President Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes,” Mr. Putin said, according to the official transcript posted on the Kremlin’s Web site. “But this isn’t just about President Obama.
“For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere,” Mr. Putin continued. “I met him recently on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man, and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?”
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