Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is “not a big fan” of Vladimir Putin, describing the Russian president as cold and calculating.
Reid complimented former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and then offered critical remarks of Russia's leader.
U.S. relations with Russia soured after the country granted temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, who leaked information about secret National Security Administration surveillance programs.
The Obama administration recently canceled a bilateral meeting with Putin, citing Snowden’s asylum along with a number of other issues, including human rights abuses.
“I think he has been pretty tough on the democracy movement in Russia,” Reid said.
Reid, nonetheless, said relations have improved tremendously since the height of the Cold War when his kids were growing up.
“They were afraid they were going to get toasted every night with a nuclear holocaust,” Reid said. “So it's better days.”
Reid agreed with Obama that the United States should not boycott the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. There have been calls for the U.S. to boycott the games over Snowden and a new anti-gay law in Russia.
Reid said the United States's boycott of the 1980 Olympics hosted by Moscow ended up hurting U.S. athletes rather than the host country.
“It's about this: You have somebody who trains for four years to run the hurdles, to run 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters or archery, whatever. And then, suddenly, you are told you can't go because of politics?” Reid said.