Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Russian President Vladimir Putin “has outperformed our president time and time again on the world stage” in an interview with NBC News on Friday.

The former Massachusetts governor said the U.S. and Russia were “geopolitical advisories,” and Putin had bested President Obama in a number of disputes.

Romney said Putin had given Syrian President Bashar Assad “the cover that he needed” to win “a diplomatic battle,” after Obama pushed for a military strike in response to chemical weapons use in the country’s civil war. Instead, Assad agreed to turn over his chemical weapons stockpile to the international community in a deal brokered by Moscow.

Romney also said Putin had kept National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden “as a bit of a stick in the eye at America.”

“And I think most observers of the international political scene suggest that Russia has elevated itself in stature and America has been diminished,” Romney said.