Russian President Vladimir Putin stopped just short of endorsing Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump Thursday, but called Trump "a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt."
"He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that ... He is an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome it," Putin told reporters following his annual press conference in Moscow, according to Reuters.
He continued, "It's not our job to judge his qualities, that's a job for American voters, but he's the absolute leader in the presidential race."
According to the Russian news agency Interfax, Putin also told members of the press that he doesn't wish to "assess tricks Donald Trump [is] using to boost his popularity."
Trump has spoken highly of Putin on the campaign trail, suggesting the two men would get along "very well" if he is elected president. Trump previously claimed he and Putin had met once before while they were "stablemates" before shooting an episode of "60 Minutes," despite having filmed their segments on separate continents.
"[Putin] does not like Obama at all. He doesn't respect Obama at all. And I'm sure that Obama doesn't like him very much," Trump said in October. "But I think that I would probably get along with [Putin] very well. And I don't think you'd be having the kind of problems that you're having right now."