ASTANA (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that he had seen fragments of the debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump but that his preference for Biden as the next U.S. president remained unchanged.

Asked by a state television reporter if Biden or Trump was better, if his publicly stated preference for Biden had changed after the debate, and if he had seen it, Putin said:

“Nothing has changed.”

“Did we not know what could come? We knew,” Putin added.

Putin has several times said that he feels Biden is preferable as the future U.S. president to Trump, even after Biden cast the Kremlin chief as a “crazy SOB”.

Putin said that he had seen parts of the debate between Biden and Trump but he had other things to attend to.

“I saw some fragments,” Putin said. “But I have enough to do.”

Biden, 81, put in a stumbling performance during the debate, which brought questions about his age and mental fitness to the forefront of the campaign.

Putin said that he paid little attention to partial media reports about the debate though he could not ignore it as the United States remained a great power.

Asked about Trump’s statements that he could end the Ukraine war swiftly if he won the presidential election, Putin said Russia took him seriously but had no sense of the details of any of Trump’s peace proposals.

“The fact that Mr Trump, as a presidential candidate, declares that he is ready and wants to stop the war in Ukraine, we take this completely seriously,” Putin said.

“I am not, of course, familiar with possible proposals for how he plans to do this. This is the key question. But I have no doubt that he means it sincerely, and we support it.”

(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge, Vladimir Soldatkin and Dmitry Antonov; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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