Vladimir Putin said he hoped that Joe Biden would be less impulsive than his predecessor but warned US-Russian relations were at their lowest point in years ahead of the leaders’ first meeting.
The Russian president also denied ordering the killings of his political opponents, dismissing Mr Biden’s claim he was a “killer” as “Hollywood” machismo.
In a rare interview with NBC News, Mr Putin offered an expansive view of his two most recent US counterparts’ different leadership styles.
Mr Putin, 68, characterised Donald Trump as a “colourful individual”, while describing Mr Biden as a “career man” who was well versed in the ways of Washington politics.
“I believe that former US president Mr Trump is an extraordinary individual… He is a colourful individual, but he didn’t come from the US establishment, he had not been part of big time politics before, and some like it some don’t like it but that is a fact,” he said.
Meanwhile Mr Biden was “radically different” because he “has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics”.
“It is my great hope that yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements, on behalf of the sitting US president,” Mr Putin said, in a veiled reference to Mr Trump’s unpredictable leadership style.
The comments come ahead of a highly-anticipated first meeting between the Democratic president and Mr Putin in Geneva, Switzerland next week.
The Russian president said the US-Russian relationship “has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years” but expressed optimism that he could work with the 78-year-old Mr Biden.
Mr Biden is expected to raise a number of contentious issues, including claims that Mr Putin offers safe harbours to hackers launching cyberattacks on US companies and that the Kremlin interfered in the 2020 election.
The two men have met on previous occasions – most notably in 2011, when Mr Biden visited Moscow as Barack Obama’s vice president.
Mr Biden later famously declared that he had told Mr Putin to his face: “I don’t think you have a soul.”
In Mr Biden’s telling, Mr Putin smiled and responded: “We understand one another.”
As tensions between Moscow and Washington have increased in recent months, Mr Biden has used more aggressive rhetoric to describe his Russian counterpart.
During an interview in March, Mr Biden called Mr Putin a killer and said he would “pay a price” for his attempt to meddle in the 2020 election. In response, Russia recalled its ambassador to the US for the first time in more than 20 years.
Asked about the “killer” label during his NBC interview, Mr Putin said the term was part of “macho behavior” common in Hollywood. Such discourse “is part of US political culture where it’s considered normal. By the way, not here, it is not considered normal here,” he said.
“Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext, and reasons and of different caliber and fierceness and none of it surprises me,” he said.