MANILA - Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday cautioned the world on dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling him a "smart and mean" leader.
Albright's comments on Putin came as Washington officials investigated Moscow's alleged meddling in last year's US presidential elections. Putin has denied the charge.
The former US top envoy was asked during the ANC Leadership Forum in Manila what she thought about the rise of Russia's president.
Albright recalled a focus group discussion in Moscow where a Russian participant said: "I'm so embarrassed. We used to be a superpower, and now we’re Bangladesh with missiles."
"Putin has bought into that and he has portrayed himself as the epitome of a resurgent Russia," Albright said.
"He is smart and he is mean and he is a KGB agent, and I think we have to remember that," Albright said, referring to the former Soviet spy agency.
Albright recalled seeing how Putin would "ingratiate" himself to other world leaders at in one Asia-Pacific economic forum.
"It's very interesting to watch how he operates," Albright said.
"I think one has to be very careful about what it is to admire about him," she said.
In an interview with Austrian newspaper Die Presse last year, Albright described Putin as a "smart but truly evil man."