Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow should have been a big win for both of them.
For Putin, it was a chance to explain his justification for the Russian invasion of Ukraine to a sympathetic voice in American conservatism, just as congressional Republicans are considering whether to approve a Ukrainian aid package. For Carlson, it was an opportunity to bolster his relevance after being fired from Fox News last year — and promote his new media venture at the same time.
But Carlson’s much-touted interview, recorded on Tuesday and released on Thursday evening, ran into a problem as soon as it began. In his attempt to justify the invasion, Putin spent a significant part of the interview focused on a tedious recounting of Russian and Ukrainian history, to the point that Carlson became irritated and two began to clash.
Carlson addressed the dispute in his introduction to the interview.
“Putin went on for a very long time, probably half an hour, about the history of Russia,” the former prime-time star explained in his preamble from a spot overlooking Moscow’s Red Square as snow fell around him. “… And honestly, we thought this was a filibustering technique and found it annoying and interrupted him several times, and he responded. He was annoyed by the interruption.”
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Putin’s lengthy version of the history between the two countries — which he’s laid out before, and has been criticized as a revisionist pretext for war by some historians — went back as far as the 9th century, namechecking the likes of “Prince Rurik” and “Prince Yaroslav the Wise” in an attempt to argue that Ukrainians are actually Russian.
But that rambling account seems unlikely to resonate with Carlson’s die-hard conservative audience in the United States.
Carlson later claimed that he understood why Putin needed to discuss so much history, but as he tried to cut in during the interview, the Russian president grew irritated.
“I asked you at the beginning, are we going to have a serious talk or a show?” Putin said at one point, speaking through a translator. “You said a serious talk. So bear with me, please.”
On Fox News, Carlson was a master of combative interviews, carefully controlling their flow with interjections and even undermining his subjects by flashing a blank look on his face or a mischievous smile. But in Moscow, Carlson was a bystander for much of his own interview, interjecting only briefly. He also didn’t ask the Russian president about a number of challenging topics, from Russian atrocities in Ukraine to Putin’s attacks on internal dissent.
The disputes between Carlson and Putin were a surprise in part because they have recently agreed on so much. Carlson has called Ukraine an undemocratic “client state” used to provoke Russia into war, words that echoed Putin so closely that an anti-Trump Republican group created a viral video in 2023 that paired Carlson’s rhetoric with Putin’s.
Still, Carlson’s disagreements with Putin about the interview itself became clear even before the interview aired. Earlier this week, in a promotional video for the interview, Carlson falsely portrayed himself as the only Western reporter who had “bothered” to interview Putin. That carried with it an insinuation, deliberate or not, that Putin isn’t important enough to interview, sparking pushback from a Putin spokesman who claimed Putin has received “many” interview requests.
Despite his fleeting clashes with Carlson, Putin still used the interview to portray Russia as a country acting in self-defense, beset by NATO and the CIA. And while most of the discussion focused on the war, Carlson also granted Putin a forum to hold forth on the grand intellectual questions of our time.
In one of the interview’s stranger questions, Carlson asked how a world leader could profess to be a Christian while ordering violence, only to see the Russian president brush the question away by praising Russia’s “moral values.” Carlson also asked Putin when he thought an “AI empire” of self-aware machines would begin.
“I think there’s no stopping Elon Musk,” Putin replied, referring to the billionaire owner of X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, who has welcomed Carlson’s show onto his platform. “He will do as he sees fit.”
In the interview’s most contentious moment, Carlson pressed Putin to release Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been detained in Russia for almost a year.
“I just want to ask you directly, without getting into the details of it or your version of what happened, if, as a sign of your decency, you would be willing to release him to us and we’ll bring him back to the United States,” Carlson said.
Putin demurred, suggesting that Gershkovich could only be released as part of a prisoner exchange.
There was a sense even among some of Carlson’s allies that the interview had failed to reach its full promise. On X, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn — who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying about his own contacts with the Russian government — said viewers should understand that Carlson was probably subjected to negotiated terms about the interview.
“I’m certain there will be a lot of Monday morning quarter backing,” Flynn wrote.
On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin spent two hours being quizzed by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson in a highly anticipated TV interview.
The interview took place just ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and at a time when United States politicians are pushing to restore military funding to Ukraine.
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Here are the five key takeaways:
Putin claims Clinton flip-flopped on Russia joining NATO
Putin revealed that, at some point, former US President Bill Clinton told him that Russia would have an opportunity to be welcomed into the military alliance, NATO.
“At a meeting here in the Kremlin with the outgoing President Bill Clinton, right here in the next room, I said to him, I asked him: ‘Bill, do you think if Russia asked to join NATO, do you think it would happen?’ Suddenly he said, ‘You know, it’s interesting. I think so,’” said Putin who was speaking through an interpreter.
“But in the evening, when we met for dinner, he said: ‘You know, I’ve talked to my team, no, no, it’s not possible now.’ You can ask him. I think he will watch our interview, he’ll confirm it,” the Russian president said.
“I wouldn’t have said anything like that if it hadn’t happened. Okay, well, it’s impossible now,” he added.
“Would you have joined NATO?” Carlson asked. “Look, I asked the question, is it possible, or not, and the answer I got was no,” Putin said.
“But if he had said yes, would you have joined NATO?” Carlson said.
“If he had said yes, the process of rapprochement would have commenced, and eventually it might have happened if we had seen some sincere wish on the other side of our partners. But it didn’t happen. Well, no means no. Okay, fine,” Putin said.
Putin also highlighted that they were promised that NATO would not expand to the East. “Not an inch to the East … and then what? They said, ‘Well, it’s not enshrined on paper, so we’ll expand.’”
“There were five waves of expansion. We tolerated all that. We were trying to persuade them. We were saying, ‘Please don’t. We are as bourgeois now as you are. We are a market economy, and there is no Communist Party power. Let’s negotiate’,” Putin added.
Former US President Bill Clinton (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin confer during a ceremony to sign agreements on the establishment of a joint warning centre for the exchange of information on missile launches [File: Reuters]
Putin says Russia is open to releasing WSJ journalist
Putin said that it might be possible to free Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is awaiting trial on spying charges, in exchange for a Russian prisoner.
The Russian president suggested that, in return, Moscow wanted Germany to free Vadim Krasikov, who was convicted of the 2019 murder of a Chechen dissident in Berlin.
Gershkovich was arrested on March 29, 2023 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg and accused of trying to obtain defence secrets. He and his newspaper strongly reject the charges and the US government has designated him as wrongfully detained.
“We are willing to solve it but there are certain terms being discussed via special services channels. I believe an agreement can be reached,” said Putin, stressing that Western powers will have to take what he called “reciprocal steps”.
“There have been many successful examples of these talks crowned with success. Probably this is going to be crowned with success as well but we have to come to an agreement,” said Putin.
Russia and the US have agreed high-profile prisoner swaps in the past – most recently in December 2022 when Moscow traded Brittney Griner, a US basketball star convicted of a drugs offence in Russia, for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout.
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was detained in March while on a reporting trip and charged with espionage [File: Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters]
Putin called any US military support of Ukraine a ‘provocation’
Carlson asked Putin: “Can you imagine a scenario where Russia is ready to send troops to Poland?”
“Only in one case if Poland attacks Russia, why? Because we have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else,” Putin said.
US politicians have said we “have to continue to fund the Ukrainian effort, or US soldier citizens could wind up fighting there. How do you assess that?” Carlson asked. That argument is based on the fact that Poland and the Baltic states are NATO members, and the alliance’s principle of collective security would kick in if any if them were attacked, necessitating US forces to intervene directly.
“This is a provocation. I do not understand why American soldiers should fight in Ukraine,” Putin said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with US television host Tucker Carlson in Moscow [Gavriil Grigorov/Sputnik, via Reuters]
“Well, if somebody has the desire to send regular troops, that would certainly bring humanity to the brink of a very serious global conflict. This is obvious,” Putin added.
“Do the United States need this? What for? Thousands of miles away from your national territory. Don’t you have anything better to do? You’ve issues on the border, issues with migration, issues with the national debt… you have nothing better to do, so you should fight in Ukraine?
“Wouldn’t it be better to negotiate with Russia? Make an agreement. Already understanding the situation that is developing today, realising that Russia will fight for its interests to the end.”
Putin also said a solution would be possible if the US stopped supplying weapons.
“If you really want to stop fighting, you need to stop supplying weapons. It will be over within a few weeks, that’s it, and then we can agree on some terms. Before you do that, stop,” Putin said.
‘Who blew up Nord Stream?’ Putin suggests it was the CIA
Putin also blamed the CIA for the explosions of the Nord Stream pipelines, cutting off a major route for Russian gas exports to Europe and fuelling geopolitical tensions.
“Who blew up Nord Stream?” Carlson asked. Putin replied: “You, for sure.”
Carlson jokingly responded, “I was busy that day”. Putin said, “You personally might have an alibi, but the CIA has not such alibi”.
“Do you have evidence that NATO or the CIA did it,” Carlson said. The Russian president responded he “won’t get into details” but you should “look for someone who is interested” and who “has capabilities”.
Many people might be interested but not all “of them are capable of sinking to the bottom of the Baltic Sea and carrying out this explosion”, Putin said.
A gas leak from Nord Stream 1 is seen in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea in this picture taken from the Swedish Coast Guard aircraft on September 28, 2022 [Reuters]
Advances in AI and genetics are a threat, Putin said
Putin said the world is changing faster than “during the collapse of the Roman Empire”.
He also said: “Mankind is currently facing many threats due to the genetic researchers – it is now possible to create this superhuman. A specialised human being. A genetically engineered athlete, scientist, military man. There are reports that Elon Musk has already had the chip implanted in the human brain in the US.”
“What do you think of that?” Carlson asked
“I think there’s no stopping Elon Musk. He will do as he sees fit,” Putin said.
“Nevertheless, you need to find some common ground with him, search for ways to persuade him,” Putin explained.
He said that humanity needed to think about what to do about the advances in genetics and artificial intelligence and suggested the nuclear arms control treaties of the Cold War could be a guide.
“When there arises an understanding that the boundless and uncontrolled development of artificial intelligence or genetics or some other modern trends, cannot be stopped, that these researches will still exist just as it was impossible to hide gunpowder from humanity… when humanity feels a threat to itself, to humanity as a whole, then, it seems to me, there will come a period to negotiate at the interstate level on how we will regulate this,” Putin added.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies
Владимир Зеленский отправил в отставку главкома ВСУ Валерия Залужного. Новым главнокомандующим Вооруженных сил Украины назначен командующий Сухопутными войсками генерал-полковник Александр Сырский. Об этом президент Украины написал в своем телеграм-канале.
“Встретился с генералом Валерием Залужным. Поблагодарил за два года защиты Украины. Обсудили, в каком обновлении нуждаются Вооруженные силы Украины. Обсудили также, кто может находиться в обновленном руководстве Вооруженных сил Украины. Время для такого обновления – именно сейчас. Предложил Валерию Федоровичу и дальше быть в команде”, – написал Зеленский.
Он также отметил, что сегодня к руководству Вооруженными силами Украины приступает новая управленческая команда.
“Я хочу, чтобы видение войны было единым и у наших воинов в Работино или Авдеевке, и в Генеральном штабе и Ставке. Я провел десятки разговоров с командирами разного уровня. В частности, сегодня говорил с бригадными генералами Андреем Гнатовым, Михаилом Драпатым, Игорем Скибюком и полковниками Павлом Палисой и Вадимом Сухаревским. Все они рассматриваются на руководящие должности в армии и будут служить под руководством наиболее опытного украинского командующего. У него есть успешный опыт защиты – провел Киевскую оборонную операцию. Он также имеет успешный опыт наступления – Харьковской освободительной операции. Я назначил генерал-полковника Сырского главнокомандующим Вооруженными силами Украины”, – сказал Зеленский.
Залужный, в свою очередь, отметил, что провел с президентом Украины “серьезный и важный разговор”.
“Задания 2022 года отличаются от задач 2024 года. Поэтому все должны измениться и адаптироваться к новым реалиям. Чтобы победить тоже вместе. Принято решение о необходимости изменения подходов и стратегии”, – подчеркнул Залужный.
В комментарии “Суспільне” глава Минобороны Украины Рустем Умеров заявил, что “сегодня одобрили решение сменить руководство ВСУ”.
“Война не остается одинаковой. Война меняется и требует перемен. Боевые действия 2022-го, 2023-го и 2024-го – это три разных реальности. 2024 год принесет новые изменения, к которым должны быть готовы. Нужны новые подходы, новые стратегии. Сегодня было принято решение о необходимости смены руководства Вооруженных сил Украины. Искренне благодарен Валерию Федоровичу [Залужному] за все достижения и победы”, – написал Умеров в своем фейсбуке.
Александр Сырский – уроженец России, в Украине живет с 1980 года. Первое военное образование получил в Московском высшем общевойсковом командном училище. Затем окончил Академию Вооруженных сил Украины и Национальную академию обороны Украины. Командовал Сухопутными войсками ВСУ с 2019 года. В феврале 2022 года Сырский руководил обороной Киева, за что впоследствии ему было присвоено звание Героя Украины.
Published on Feb 08, 2024 02:14 PM IST
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow is working on freeing hostages held in captivity by Hamas in Gaza. Putin said this after meeting Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, and the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities, Alexander Boroda, in the Kremlin. Putin claimed that Moscow had achieved “specific results” in its diplomatic efforts using its contacts within Hamas’s political wing.
Hillary Clinton reacted to conservative commentator Tucker Carlson’s recent announcement that he had secured an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling the former Fox News pundit a “useful idiot”
In an interview with MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, the former first lady appeared unsurprised by the news and highlighted comments made previously by Carlson about the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“He says things that are not true. He parrots Vladimir Putin’s pack of lies about Ukraine, so I don’t see why Putin wouldn’t give him an interview,” she said.
Carlson has publicly voiced his opposition to U.S. support for Ukraine, arguing that American cities have suffered as a result of Congress and the White House providing billions of dollars in aid to the country.
During a video announcement posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Carlson accused Western media of not “bothering” to try and interview Putin and urged people to watch the interview, saying that while they may not agree with what the Russian president says, as “free citizens,” it is important to “know as much as they can” and draw their own conclusions.
Clinton, meanwhile, suggested that Carlson is a figure of ridicule within Russian media, going so far as to say that a position at a Russian outlet may be on the table for him.
“If you actually read translations of what is being said on Russian media, they make fun of him …he’s like a puppy dog”, Clinton said.
“I would not be surprised if he emerges with a contract with a Russian outlet, because he is a useful idiot.”
While Carlson has yet to confirm the details of when the interview will be published, this will be the first time a member of the Western media has been granted an interview by the Russian president since his invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
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