Russian President Vladimir Putin says the criminal cases against former US president Donald Trump are politically motivated and demonstrate the “rottenness” of the US political system.
Mr Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is facing a series of criminal cases in which he is charged, among other things, with trying to overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat by Joe Biden.
He has pleaded not guilty, while Mr Biden, who is seeking re-election next year, has kept silent about the proceedings against his opponent.
Mr Putin said on Tuesday that what was happening to Mr Trump was good from Russia’s point of view.
“It shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others democracy,” he said at an Eastern Economic Forum gathering in Russia’s far-eastern city of Vladivostok.
“Everything that is happening with Trump is the persecution of a political rival for political reasons. That’s what it is. And this is being done in front of the public of the United States and the whole world,” he said.
During his four years in the White House, Mr Trump repeatedly boasted of having good relations with Mr Putin, while critics alleged he was submissive to the Russian leader.
Mr Trump has claimed he could resolve the conflict in Ukraine in a matter of days, if he regains the presidency. He has not provided details of his potential approach.
“We hear that Mr. Trump says that he will solve pressing problems in a few days, including the Ukrainian crisis. Well, this cannot but bring happiness. This is good,” Mr Putin said.
However, the Russian leader said his country’s poor relations with the US were unlikely to change regardless of who becomes president, because the current administration was “hammering into people’s heads” that Russia was an existential adversary.
“It will be very difficult for [the next administration] to somehow turn this whole ship,” he said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have plunged to post-Cold War lows under Mr Biden following Mr Putin’s decision in February 2022 to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, triggering sweeping Western sanctions and Western military aid to Kyiv.
Russia is also due to have a presidential election in 2024. Mr Putin hedged on Tuesday when asked if he would seek another term after being in power, as either president or prime minister, since 2000.
“We will talk about it” after the Russian parliament sets an election date, he said.