Vladimir Putin has described US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as an "unquestionably talented" man.
"He is a very outstanding man, unquestionably talented," the Russian President reportedly said after his annual news conference on Thursday.
"It's not up to us to judge his virtue, that is up to US voters, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
Putin also described the property billionaire as a "very flamboyant man".
He added Russia was ready to work with the United States no matter who is elected president next year.
"We are ready to work with any president chosen by the American people," he said.
Trump is still leading the national polls with Texas senator Ted Cruz in second place in the race for the Republican candidacy.
But he has also been fiercely criticized for his controversial remarks and policy statements throughout his campaign.
Earlier this month, Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States".
The White House slammed his remarks as "toxic and offensive", while on Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned Trump's comments "divisive, stupid and wrong".
Putin said what Trump says to his supporters did not concern him.
"On domestic politics, his manner of speaking, what he employs to raise his popularity - that is none of Russia's business," he said.
"It's not our concern to evaluate his work.
"He says that he wants a different level of relations, tighter and deeper relations with Russia, how can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it," he added.
Trump this week said he believed he would get along with Putin.
"I will get along - I think - with Putin, and I will get along with others, and we will have a much more stable - stable world," he said.
"I would talk to him. I would get along with him."