Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson released his interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who started with a long diatribe on Russian history and its relationship with Ukraine.
The two-hour, seven-minute interview was recorded on 6 February and released in full shortly before 6pm ET on Thursday. Carlson traveled to Moscow for Putin’s first interview with a Western media figure since the invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.
Putin to Carlson: Ukraine is not a real country
Putin spoke at length – more than half an hour – about the history of Eastern Europe, beginning with the establishment of the Russian state in the 9th Century.
Putin repeated his various justifications for the invasion, including well-worn falsehoods about the history of Ukraine, his historical grievances about the break-up of the Soviet Union and Nato expansion, and his claim that Ukraine is riddled with neo-Nazis.
He also talked at length about the start of the invasion, repeating false claims that Russia had not attacked Ukraine. Moscow, according to Putin, was just responding to threats to its national security.
Putin repeated his argument that Ukraine wasn’t a real country which was shaped by the “will” of Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
Asked why he doesn’t call President Joe Biden and work out a solution in Ukraine, Putin asked: “What’s there to work out?”
“Stop supplying weapons and it will be over within weeks,” he added.
“CIA sabotaged Nord Stream”
Putin also claimed that the CIA was behind the sabotage of Nord Stream, the undersea gas pipelines between Germany, Finland and Russia.
The attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines took place in international waters, with large amounts of gas rising up from the ocean floor.
Russia was suspected of a potential sabotage attack, with Moscow previously threatening repercussions for Finland’s decision to join the Nato military alliance.
Intelligence reviewed by US officials later suggested a pro-Ukrainian group was behind the attacks.
Asked by Carlson who “blew up Nord Stream”, Putin replied: “You for sure.”
The former Fox News host joked he had been “busy that day”. Putin said: “The CIA has no such alibi.”
Asked whether he had evidence to support his claims, the Russian president said he “won’t get into details” but you should “look for someone who is interested” and who “has capabilities”.
Putin wants prisoner exchange for Gershkovich
When Carlson requested that jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich be allowed to return to the US with Carlson and his crew as a show of “goodwill” from Putin, the Russian leader said that his “goodwill” had run out, complaining about the lack of reciprocity from the West.
Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg, about 1,600km (1,000 miles) east of Moscow, on 29 March last year.
In January, Russia again extended his pre-trial detention until the end of March. He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
The Russian president insisted that Gershkovich, who has not yet been tried, had received classified information, and hinted as to who Russia would accept in a prisoner exchange.
Putin mentioned “a person, due to patriotic sentiments, [who] eliminated a bandit in one of the European capitals… during the events in the Caucasus”.
The BBC says that tt was almost certainly a reference to Vadim Krasikov, an FSB assassin currently in prison in Germany after shooting dead a Georgian military officer, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, in a Berlin park in 2019.
“Carlson gave Putin a platform to spread propaganda”
Commenting on the interview CNN says that Carlson instead of pressing Putin on the many topics at hand, including credible accusations Russia has committed war crimes and the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, “he allowed the autocrat a free lane to manipulate the public and tell his version of history, no matter how deceptive it may have been.
“At times, between the airing of grievances, Putin appeared to school Carlson on historical events as the host looked on in bewilderment. Or to put it more plainly, Carlson provided Putin a platform to spread his propaganda to a global audience with little to no scrutiny of his claims,” CNN opines.
Tucker Carlson is an outspoken defender of Putin
Tucker Carlson has been an outspoken defender of Putin since the war began. Just before Russia’s invasion, he claimed that “hating Putin has become the central purpose of America’s foreign policy” but urged his viewers to ask themselves why.
“Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him?” Carlson said as Russian troops started to mass on Ukraine’s border. “These are fair questions, and the answer to all of them is: No. Vladimir Putin didn’t do any of that.”
After Russia had invaded, he changed his tone slightly during a different show, saying “Vladimir Putin started this war…He is to blame for what we’re seeing tonight in Ukraine.”