The Russian leader spoke on a variety of burning topics in the much-anticipated interview, focusing on the Ukraine conflict
Conservative American journalist Tucker Carlson has released a much-anticipated interview that he conducted with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Tuesday.
The interview mainly centered on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
In a video on X on Tuesday, Carlson claimed that Western media outlets “lie to their readers and viewers” by promoting Kiev’s position while downplaying Russia’s. “That’s wrong. Americans have the right to know all they can about a war they are implicated in,” he said.
The more than two-hour-long interview has garnered more than 46 million views on Carlson’s X account and just under a million views on YouTube in the first hours since its release. Here are the key takeaways:
Ukraine ‘started the war in 2014. Our goal is to stop this war’ – Putin
Moscow did not start the war in 2022, but is trying to stop the war that Ukraine started in 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
Putin announced the military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, following eight years of Kiev’s suppression of the Donbass population.
Commenting on the 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements that sought to end the hostilities in Donbass, Putin said he sincerely believed that the crisis in the region could have been settled if the local population had been convinced to return to Ukraine, and if Kiev agreed to fulfil its social welfare commitments. Policymakers in Kiev, however, wanted to quell the uprising by force, he added.
Russia and Ukraine were close to ending the hostilities in the early days of the conflict, Putin said. However, once Moscow pulled its troops away from the area near the Ukrainian capital in the spring of 2022, Kiev ditched all diplomacy, caving in to Western pressure to fight Moscow until the very end, according to the president.
‘Just threat mongering’ – Putin on claims that Russia wants to attack NATO
Russia would only engage in a military conflict with a NATO nation such as Poland or Latvia if it is attacked, Putin said. Any Western claims to the contrary are “just threat mongering.”
Speculation that Russia would use nuclear weapons against Ukraine or cause some kind of escalation of the conflict are “just horror stories for people in the street in order to extort additional money from US taxpayers and European taxpayers in the confrontation with Russia,” he claimed.
‘Unlike the US, Russia is not afraid of China’
Unlike the US, Russia is not afraid of the rise of China, Putin said, calling Carlson’s suggestion that BRICS risks being “completely dominated by the Chinese economy” a “boogeyman story.”
He went on to say that Beijing’s foreign policy is aimed at finding compromises, not aggression, adding that Russia has created balanced trade turnover with China.
‘If you want an end to the conflict, stop sending arms to Ukraine’
If the US wants to stop the Ukraine conflict, it should stop sending arms to Kiev, Putin said, adding that if this happened, the hostilities would end within weeks.
Putin went on to say it was “ridiculous and very sad” that Kiev listened to then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and refused to sign a draft truce with Russia that was agreed on during peace talks in 2022. The conflict continues on to this day, while Johnson himself is no longer in office, he noted.
Relations with the West
Putin said Russia accepted the collapse of the Soviet Union and expected that once all ideological differences were eliminated, it could engage in cooperation with the West.
But this never happened, and the US and its “satellites” supported separatism and terrorism in the northern Caucasus in the 1990s by providing political, informational, financial, and military support to insurgents. The West was also involved in the coup d’etat in Ukraine in 2014.
Putin on NATO expansion
NATO promised that it would not expand its territory eastwards, but quickly broke this promise by bringing all of Eastern Europe and Baltic states into the fold, Putin said. The US-led military bloc now intends to drag Ukraine in, he added.
Putin called the West’s approach to Ukraine a colossal political mistake, pointing to NATO’s 2008 promise to accept the country into the bloc, as well as the Western-supported coup d’etat in Kiev in 2014. The new Ukrainian government’s campaign to persecute those who opposed the coup was a threat to Crimea, forcing Moscow to take the region under its own protection, he added.
Putin noted that he had asked former US President Bill Clinton about whether Russia could join NATO, but Clinton said it would not be possible. If, however, the US leader had said yes, it would have ushered in a period of rapprochement between Moscow and the military alliance, Putin stated.
‘Who blew up Nord Stream?’ – Carlson to Putin
Asked by Carlson who he believes blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines linking Russia and Germany through the Baltic Sea, Putin replied: “You,” referring to the US and its allies. When pressed whether he has any proof of CIA or NATO involvement, the Russian leader said that in cases like this, one should first look for those who would benefit from the attacks, and who had the capability to carry them out.
Elon Musk ‘cannot be stopped’ – Putin
Billionaire Elon Musk, who is pushing forward technical progress, including by implanting a neurochip into a human brain, “cannot be stopped,” Putin said, adding that agreements and regulations on this technology should be reached. The president compared recent achievements in artificial intelligence and genetics to the development of nuclear weapons in the 20th century, explaining that when nations across the world started to sense the danger, they forged agreements to regulate the new technology.
Putin does not rule out the release of Gershkovich
Asked whether Moscow is prepared to release US journalist Evan Gershkovich (who was arrested on espionage charges in Russia last year) as a gesture of goodwill, Putin said that Russia has been prepared to work with the West, but this has not been reciprocated. However, Putin did not rule out the release of Gershkovich, adding that this would require flexibility from Western intelligence services.
‘The US-led West’ will always support those who antagonize Russia – Putin on Zelensky
Zelensky was elected president on a platform of peace, but allied himself with “neo-Nazis and nationalists” after taking office, Putin said. He gave two reasons for this.
The first is that people like this are “aggressive and… you can expect anything from them,” and the second is that “the US-led West supports them and will always support those who antagonize Russia.” It was “beneficial and safe” for Zelensky, but obviously betrayed the promises he made to voters, Putin said, adding: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine went on a quest to find its national identity, but found no better option other than promoting “false heroes” who collaborated with the Nazis during WWII.