Putin praises Trump as a good businessman
© Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE as a good businessman on Friday during his remarks about a gas pipeline that would link Russia and Germany. 

“Donald isn’t just president of the United States, he’s also a good and strong entrepreneur,” said Putin in a discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Russian city of Sochi, as reported by Bloomberg

"He's also promoting the interests of his business to ensure sales in the European market of liquified American gas," Putin added, referring to the U.S. threat of sanctions if the project moves forward.

U.S. officials fear the project, called the Nord Stream 2, would increase Western Europe's dependence on Russia for natural gas, and could possibly allow Russia to plant surveillance equipment underwater in the Black Sea. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Merkel has suggested Russia has ulterior motives in supporting the pipeline because of its “strategic significance.” Putin maintains the $11 billion pipeline's purpose is “exclusively economic." 

Trump's praise of Putin as a strong leader during the 2016 election raised eyebrows, and his connections to the Kremlin and Russian government are now under immense scrutiny in the federal probe investigating interference in the presidential race. 

But Trump has touted his administration's "tough" stance on Russia, including a recent set of sanctions against Russian oligarchs with close ties to Putin for allegedly meddling in the election. 

The U.S. could potentially sanction the pipeline under a 2017 bill passed in Congress last summer aimed at punishing Russia for its election interference and aggressive military actions in Ukraine.