Vladimir Putin Praises Donald Trump, Calls Him 'Bright and Talented'

Vladimir Putin strikes a very Trump-esque pose during his end-of-year news conference in Moscow on December 17. The Russian president had words of praise for the Republican presidential hopeful. Maxim Zmeyev/REUTERS

In a wide-ranging news conference that he holds annually, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, calling him a "very bright and talented man."

Trump has said in debates and stump speeches that he would "get along great with Putin," which he intends as a criticism of the Russian president's diplomatic handling of the mercurial Russian leader. According to Reuters, Putin is tickled by the notion that Trump wants to be friends.

"He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it," Putin said

He went on to call the real estate mogul the "absolute front-runner" in the race for the U.S. presidency. The other front-running candidate, Hillary Clinton, has a more icy history with Putin; she once said that as a former KGB agent, he "doesn't have a soul" by definition.

Trump's not necessarily wrong when he suggests that he and Putin could have a bromance. They share a disdain for Barack Obama that seems personal as well as political, and they both practice a masculine flamboyance. Trump endlessly sings his own praises in public while chiding his adversaries; Putin flouts his international counterparts and stages corporeal photo ops. They both like the idea of "bombing the hell" out of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), as Putin put it to CBS's John Dickerson.

Trump has taken an unusual approach by arguing that he'd "get along" with Putin. The rest of the Republican presidential field joins Senator John McCain in routinely insulting the Russian by calling him a thug and a bully. Obama is more professorial in his attacks, taunting Putin on his country's economic reliance on oil exports.

It's not the first time a tacit endorsement of Trump has made headlines. The golden-haired tycoon has an uncanny ability to draw the attention of other newsmaking individuals.

So would President Trump mark a new dawn in U.S.-Russian relations? To have a better relationship with Putin than Obama has had, Trump wouldn't have to do much.

Then again, when two self-proclaimed tough guys hang out in the same room, one usually has to prove that he's tougher. And one of them apparently doesn't understand the nuclear triad.