( dpa ) - US President George W Bush on Thursday dismissed suggestions that Russian President Vladimir Putin's handpicked successor will serve as a puppet to the current leader.
"No, I wouldn't say that," Bush said at a White House press conference.
Putin has endorsed Dmitry Medvedev as the next Russian president and he is expected to easily win Russia's presidential election on Sunday.
Putin, however, has positioned himself to serve as prime minister once he leaves office, prompting concerns that he will retain most of the power in the Kremlin.
"What'll be interesting to see is who comes to the - who represents Russia at the G-8, for example," Bush said.
Bush said he will encourage the next US president to develop a strong relationship with "whoever's running foreign policy in Russia" to help the two countries work within differences to tackle international challenges.
Medvedev was a topic during Tuesday's debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the two Democratic candidates seeking to replace Bush in the November 4 election. Both candidates demonstrated little knowledge about Medvedev, and Clinton struggled to pronounce his name.
"I don't know much about Medvedev either," Bush said.