He didn’t actually say that, but Alexander Rahr’s observations of the Russian Prime Minister during his appearance before Valdai is quite revealing:
Alexander Rahr, a Russia expert with the German Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, said Tuesday that Putin departed from his previously cautious attitude toward U.S. President Barack Obama at the closed session.
“I was very interested in how warmly Putin spoke about Obama. He even called him a like-minded fellow,” Rahr said by telephone.
Rahr, who also attended the previous six annual meetings with Putin, noted an unusual courtship of China by the prime minister.
Putin described China as Russia’s close partner several times and warned the West not to try to drive a wedge between Moscow and Beijing, Rahr said.
He added that this time Putin had not felt restrained in picking his words carefully, similar to an Aug. 30 interview with Kommersant that was abundant with colloquialisms bordering on rudeness. “Putin was very self-confident there, as if telling everyone, ‘Accept me as I am,'” Rahr said.