The actor was speaking as he presented his new movie Valley Of Love with fellow French icon Isabelle Huppert.
Depardieu was photographed getting very close to his co-star on the red carpet, even appearing to lean in for a kiss on the lips at one point.
The 66-year-old faced questions about his much-criticised decision to take Russian citizenship in 2013.
"I like everybody, I think conflict is a terrible thing," he said.
"I know Vladimir Putin, I like him very much. I go to the USSR a lot, err, Russia," he added, drawing a laugh at a news conference.
Depardieu insisted that "no one understands the situation in Ukraine".
Western countries have accused the Russian president of illegally annexing Crimea and continuing to arm pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
"Like anyone, I'm shocked by the situation," said Depardieu.
"I love the Ukrainian people but conflicts are not my area."
He added: "The same goes for Russia, there are so many different ethnicities in Russia ... I don't pretend to know, or be the spokesman for, anything. I hate war, I hate conflict because people die."
But he indulged in a sideswipe at the United States: "I know if Crimea had been American it would have been different. Think about it."
Depardieu befriended Mr Putin and accepted a Russian passport after criticising taxes on top earners in his native France.
The larger-than-life star said he was happy to still be making French films, not least for the lifestyle it affords.
"I became an actor because I love it, it makes me happy, and you earn a lot of money," he said.
"That may sound vulgar but that's how it is."
The film festival finishes on Sunday when the winner of the Palme d'Or will be announced.
The work sold for $1.1m (£700,000) at the amfAR gala at the star-filled Hotel Du Cap-Eden Roc in Antibes, France.
The highlight of the auction was the sale, at $13m (£8.3m), of artist Jeff Koons' Coloring Book sculpture to Russian billionaire Leonard Blavatnik.
Sharon Stone usually hosts the auction but was nowhere to be seen, prompting some guests to comment on whether it was linked to continuing rumours about her ill health.
But in a statement to The Associated Press, the 57-year-old said that she could not attend "due to work commitments".
"I am grateful that on this - my 20th year with amfAR - we have become a solid community that has grown to the point of functioning and succeeding in fundraising and HIV/AIDS awareness," she added.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Marion Cotillard, Sienna Miller and Adrien Brody took a break from events at the Cannes Film Festival to attend the fundraiser, which was hosted by model Karlie Kloss.
12 Years A Slave actor Michael Fassbender had heads turning as he was very prominently chatting, up close, to Romanian model-turned-actress Madalina Ghenea for 20 minutes at the centre of the amfAR marquee.
Ghenea, 26, grabbed attention at Cannes by featuring nude on the provocative poster for the film Youth, with Sir Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel.
British singer Charli XCX performed before Mary J Blige wowed crowds with a rousing performance of Family Affair and then dashed the hopes of many by leaving stage after five minutes.
Picking up the baton, British band Imagine Dragons delivered with their performance, standing on tables, and at one point a drunken lady snatched a mic from them on stage.
The Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, 55, made an unexpected appearance at the glitzy event.
"Giving back is close to my heart and I think it's important when you're on the public stage to be able to spread the awareness," she said, posing very unexpectedly for cameras with heiress Paris Hilton.
The event always provides shocks and surprises so here are some things which go hand-in-hand with perhaps the strangest talent show on Earth.
:: Inappropriate displays of affection
Monika Linkyte and Vaidas Baumila of Lithuania locked lips on stage during the semi-finals... and with all of the nerves of the occasion, we can expect other contestants to let their emotions get the better of them.
:: Power ballads
Expect female singers, wearing big dresses, standing still but with their arms stretched wide belting out a tearjerker - possibly in a foreign language which many viewers don't understand.
Then they will cry afterwards and reluctantly leave the stage.
:: High hopes dashed
Serbia's act Bojana Stamenov will be performing a song penned by the same writer as last year's winning Austrian entry, Rise Like A Phoenix sung by Conchita Wurst.
But will Beauty Never Lies deliver the goods for the writer two years in a row?
:: Low hopes met
Supporters of the United Kingdom know to keep their expectations realistic. Since we have little international support, the odds of us winning are pretty long.
Electro Velvet's fun song Still In Love With You is unlikely to be able to beat off favourites Sweden, and many of the other 25 countries.
The theme "Building Bridges" may not extend as far as voting for the UK.
:: The emergence of an early front-runner
Mans Zelmerloew of Sweden, who rose to fame on a TV talent show, will be singing a song called Heroes.
While the contemporary dance song itself will prove to be popular, his tight leather trousers and eye-catching staging may also win him votes.
Anti-booing technology has been put in place this year after Russia's act received a negative reception last year in Copenhagen.
The communications co-ordinator told the Moscow Times sound reducers have been installed and regular audience sound will be used to disguise any boos.
:: Continued confusion about when Australia became part of Europe
In February, it was announced that Australia would compete for the first time.
Jon Ola Sand, executive supervisor of the contest, said: "It's a daring and at the same time incredibly exciting move."
If they win, they will be allowed to defend the title, but the show must be held in Europe.
:: Acts taking themselves just a bit too seriously
In rehearsals Elnur Huseynov of Azerbaijan performed in a ghostly forest with some interpretative dancers swaying around him.
:: Someone a bit scary
There is always one country which choose to go a bit gothic with its act.
It has not been proved whether wearing black lipstick will get you more, or fewer, votes.
:: Lights, fireworks and over-the-top staging
Organisers of this year's contest are promising a spectacle. The stage contains 300 LED strips, 450 LED floor modules and 1,288 illuminated slabs, and has been put together using 3,225 metres of tubing and 5,000 square metres of floor space.
The centrepiece on the stage is a giant electronic eye 43m-wide and 14m-high.
:: Mentions of how Ireland didn't make it through
Ireland are the most successful country at Eurovision with seven wins but their youngest ever entrant, 17-year-old Molly Sterling failed to make the cut with her semi-final performance of Playing With Numbers.
Host Graham Norton is likely to mention this once or twice.
A Finnish punk band with learning disabilities, who entered with the shortest-ever song at 85 seconds, also failed to progress to the final.
Nevada Highway Patrol spokesman Loy Hixon said the 56-year-old rapper was pulled over at 12.30am on Thursday after driving at 73mph (117kmph) in a 45mph (72 kmph) zone.
Flav also had a suspended driver's licence and registration, Mr Hixon said.
He was arrested on six charges - all misdemeanours - and online police records show that he has posted bail.
Flav's legal name is William Jonathan Drayton Jr.
His Las Vegas lawyer, Kristina Wildeveld, said she had no comment to offer regarding her client's arrest but said she is working to resolve an ongoing case in New York that also involves driving-related charges.
Legal troubles have added up for the rapper and reality star, known for wearing large clocks around his neck.
He is facing a felony charge of driving with a suspended licence in New York state after he was stopped for speeding on the way to his mother's funeral in January 2014.
Earlier this year, he pleaded not guilty to the charge and other misdemeanours. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
Flav pleaded guilty in March 2014 in a Las Vegas domestic violence case for threatening the son of his longtime girlfriend with a kitchen knife.
Charges were reduced to misdemeanours in that case and he agreed to probation and counselling.
The rapper has featured in several reality television shows in recent years but he rose to fame as part of the hip hop outfit Public Enemy in the late 1980s.
The stars were joined by a host of other cast members to sing songs written by Chris Martin and his bandmates for the American version of Red Nose Day.
Dinklage performed an ode to his own survival on the bloodthirsty drama called Still Going Strong, while actress Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, sang a reggae anthem called Rastafarian Targaryen.
The film also features Kit Harington singing a song called "Wild-ling" to Rose Leslie.
Alfie Allen, Iwan Rheon and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau also all showed off their singing credentials in the comedic songs about some of the fantasy show's biggest plotlines, including the Red Wedding and Ned Stark's death.
The clip featured in a three-hour telecast on NBC which featured dozens of stars.
One Direction, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Helen Mirren and Robert Pattinson were among the British talent who helped raise money for the first Red Nose Day across the Atlantic.
Host Seth Meyers announced his plans to trump the UK version and rub it in the faces of the Brits.
Meyers, who hosts a late night talk show in America, said he was determined to keep the actors from across the pond out of the spotlight.
"I don't want the British doing anything in front of the cameras," he said.
"They are famously terrible actors so they are all working backstage."
Cameras cut to music mogul Simon Cowell in the director's chair, Orlando Bloom at the sound board, Naomi Campbell operating a camera, Sir Ian McKellen working the autocue, Cumberbatch struggling with cue cards and Dame Helen making tea.
Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne was left with the task of wishing people good luck while Pattinson struggled with valet parking and immediately crashed the first car given to him.
The charity night has been an annual event in the UK for 30 years but is largely unknown in America and a pre-recorded video showed stars including Zac Efron, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston recruiting their famous friends to take part in the broadcast without any idea of the name of the event or the charities it helps.
The money raised during Red Nose Day will help 12 charities and fund projects that address the immediate needs of children and young people living in poverty in the US, and internationally in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
One Direction sported red noses to encourage the American public to donate while Gwyneth Paltrow got stuck as she attempted to abseil down from the ceiling of the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York.
Another series of pre-recorded videos showed female stars remaking movies with all-male casts including stars of Orange Is The New Black in Reservoir Dogs and Anna Kendrick as "Indianna Jones", as well as new versions of 12 Angry Men and Three Men And A Baby.