Putin Says He Prefers Biden Over Trump. Commentators Are Skeptical.

President Vladimir V. Putin said on Wednesday that it was in Russia’s interest for President Biden to win a second term, calling his American counterpart experienced and predictable, and dismissing concerns about Mr. Biden’s age.

It was the first time that Mr. Putin had directly expressed a preference ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, and the comments ran counter to the widespread assumption that the Kremlin was rooting for former President Donald J. Trump, the front-runner to be the Republican nominee. Mr. Putin made the comments in a brief interview with Russian state television released late Wednesday.

“Who is better for us: Biden or Trump?” the interviewer asked.

“Biden,” Mr. Putin responded. “He is a more experienced person, he is predictable, he is a politician of the old school.”

Mr. Putin added, with a smile, “But we will work with any U.S. leader whom the American people have confidence in.”

Some commentators quickly dismissed Mr. Putin’s comments as a provocation or perhaps as a roundabout attempt to weigh down Mr. Biden’s campaign by saddling him with the endorsement of one of America’s main adversaries.

It was also the latest in a series of comments by Mr. Putin that seemed aimed at keeping tensions with the United States in check, coming at a time when other developments — such as jitters about Russia’s possible plans to deploy a space-based nuclear weapon — threaten to exacerbate the strains in the countries’ relations.

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