But regardless of how that relationship should be characterized, it's pretty clear that Putin has little respect for the other major candidate in this race — Hillary Clinton. And he has made no secret of that.
Below, we recap his public comments.
2014: "Ms. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements."
Here's an exchange from a Kremlin transcript of an interview with Radio Europe 1 in June 2014, shortly after it was revealed that Clinton, in her book, compared Putin's actions in Eastern Europe to "what Hitler did back in the '30s":
QUESTION (via interpreter): Mr. President, it is very convenient that you are meeting with Mr. Obama on June 6. Perhaps, it would be worse if you were meeting with Hillary Clinton. Only a few days ago, she said that what Russia is doing in Eastern Europe resembles what Hitler was doing in the 1930s.PUTIN: It’s better not to argue with women. But Ms. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements. Still, we always met afterwards and had cordial conversations at various international events. I think even in this case we could reach an agreement. When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman. ...Someday I will indulge myself and we will laugh together at some good joke. But when I hear such extreme statements, to me it only means that they don't have any valid arguments.
April: "A husband and a wife are the same devil/Satan."
"First, there was Bush senior in power, then Bush junior. [Bill] Clinton was [president] two times in a row; now his wife has ambitions. Again, the family might stay in power. As they say in Russia, a husband and a wife are the same Satan."
Some have translated that last sentence as "same devil." A Kremlin transcript has the translation a little different — "single devil":
First Bush Sr. was in power there, later on Bush Jr. — all from the same family. Clinton was in power for two terms and now his wife is laying claim to this position, and the family may remain in office. What does this have to do with turnover? As the saying goes, "Husband and wife are a single devil."
2011: Accused of fomenting protests in Russia
Back in 2011, Putin accused then-secretary of state Clinton of inciting protests by questioning the legitimacy of Russia's elections:
“I looked at the first reaction of our U.S. partners,” Mr. Putin said. “The first thing that the secretary of state did was say that they were not honest and not fair, but she had not even yet received the material from the observers.”“She set the tone for some actors in our country and gave them a signal,” Mr. Putin continued. “They heard the signal and with the support of the U.S. State Department began active work.”
June: Russia will work with either Trump or Clinton.
Despite all of this, earlier this month, Putin pledged to work with whoever is the next U.S. president. (That's not quite praise of Clinton, of course.)
"America is a great power — today probably the only superpower. We accept that," Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. "We want to and are ready to work with the United States."