Russia’s Vladimir Putin described Donald Trump on Thursday as “talented,” and said the real estate mogul is an “absolute leader” in the Republican race for the White House, NBC News reported.

Speaking to reporters after his annual three-hour televised news conference, Putin welcomed the GOP front-runner’s stance on relations with Moscow.

“He is a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt about it,” Putin said. “It is not up to us to appraise his positive sides, it is up to the U.S. voters. But, as we can see, he is an absolute leader in the presidential race.”

Putin added: “He is saying that he wants to move to a different level of relations with Russia, to a closer, deeper one. How can we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome that.”

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