Putin (yes, that Putin) just praised U.S. qualities to Charlie Rose

September 25, 2015, 10:19 AM UTC
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow on December 18, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Alexander Nemenov — AFP/Getty Images

If things carry on at this rate, Robert Mugabe and Ayatollah Khameini are going to be taking selfies wrapped in Old Glory underneath of the Statue of Liberty by the end of the month.

A day after Pope Francis gushed “God bless America” and paid tribute to “the land of the free and the home of the brave” in Congress, Vladimir Putin just took to the airwaves to praise Americans for their openness and creativity.

In an interview with CBS ahead of his trip to the UN General Assembly next week, the Russian President told Charlie Rose that “I like the creativity” of the U.S..

“Their openness — openness and open-mindedness — because it allows them to unleash the inner potential of their people,” Putin said, according to an advance transcript of the interview published in The Moscow Times. And thanks to that, America has attained such amazing results in developing their country.”

Now, a cynic might say that Putin–more familiar for his attacks on U.S. imperialism, hypocrisy and arrogance–is just buttering the country up before he gets down to business with President Barack Obama on Monday. It’ll be the first meeting between the two since Russia invaded and annexed the Ukrainian province of Crimea last year. That action led to U.S. and E.U. sanctions on Russia which, along with a collapse in oil prices, have badly hit Russia’s economy (GDP is expected to shrink by anything up to 4% this year).

Over the last few weeks, analysts say Putin has appeared to preparing a grand diplomatic bargain with the West in order to relieve the pressure over the Ukraine crisis. He’s sent 2,000 troops and a number of fighter-bombers to Syria to bolster his ally, President Bashar al-Assad, in a possible prelude to a concerted push with the U.S. and other allies against Islamic State. The argument is that if he can present himself as a constructive in Syria, then perhaps the U.S. and E.U. will lift some of the sanctions.