Former Fox News personality and now social media pundit, Tucker Carlson, posted his online interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, giving the autocrat free reign to make his case to the world, and to his domestic audience in an election year.
As the right-wing pundit politely listened, Putin spoke for about two hours on various topics seemingly of his own choosing, including why Russia cannot be stopped in Ukraine, and why the West is wrong to send weapons for its defense.
“Up until now, there has been uproar and screaming about inflicting a strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield. But now they are apparently coming to realize that it is difficult to achieve, if possible, at all. In my opinion, it is impossible by definition,” he said.
“If you really want to stop fighting, you need to stop supplying weapons,” Putin instructed the media consultant to former US president Donald Trump, who has historically strong ties with the Kremlin.
Carlson, who has referred to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “pimp,” a “comedian-turned-oligarch” and “sweaty and rat-like”, has made no secret about where his loyalties lie in the conflict.
He recorded the interview on Tuesday in Moscow to much fanfare, was given the celebrity treatment around the capital, and then posted it online on Thursday evening.
The interview began with a question about why Russia felt threatened by the West and decided to invade Ukraine, to which Putin responded, “Are we having a talk show here or a serious conversation?”
While Carlson got a jovial laugh out of Putin’s wit, the audience was left to wonder much the same as the Russian president was given two hours to talk freely and almost unchallenged.
The 54-year-old American, who was kicked out of a Swiss boarding school in his youth and never graduated from his college in Connecticut, at least received a free, 30-minute lecture about Russian, Polish and Ukrainian history from the former KGB employee, spanning the centuries from the Varangian leadership of Kyiv in the 900s, to the Mongol invasion of Eastern Europe in the 14th century, right up to early foreign policy of the Soviet Union.
After nodding quietly and taking this all in, and about 100 rarely interrupted minutes on anything else Putin decided to talk about, Carlson did manage to land one tough question, about Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich, being held in Russia on espionage charges.
Putin said that, while he was certain Gershkovich was a spy, he thought an agreement could be reached on that with the US, without offering specifics.
“Certain terms are being discussed via special services channels,” Putin said.
Ep. 73 The Vladimir Putin Interview pic.twitter.com/67YuZRkfLL— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) February 8, 2024
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