Softball questions, conspiracy theories and a 30-minute historical past lesson: Tucker Carlson’s unusual interview with Vladimir Putin | EUROtoday

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Aspherical eight minutes into his mammoth two-hour interview with Vladimir Putin, Tucker Carlson was compelled to interrupt.

“I beg your pardon. Can you tell us what period…? I’m losing track of where in history we are,” stated the previous Fox News host, who had been listening to Putin’s phrases with an expression of deepening vexation.

“It was in the 13th century,” stated the Russian president matter-of-factly.

The change was solely one among many odd moments in Carlson’s much-trailed assembly with the ex-KGB strongman, who has dominated his nation’s politics for greater than twenty years and is now nearly a dictator.

Streamed totally free on Carlson’s web site on Thursday night, it was Putin’s first interview with a Western journalist since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Here are the important thing factors of their unusual, freewheeling, and sometimes comical encounter.

Putin would not suppose Ukraine is an actual nation

“Your basic education was in history, as I understand? If you don’t mind, I will take only thirty seconds, or one minute, to give you a little historical background.”

That was how Vladimir Putin, talking via an interpreter, kicked off what turned out to be a virtually 30-minute lecture on the intertwined historical past of Russia and Ukraine.

His level? To painting Ukraine as a creation of imperialist powers with no id of its personal and no actual declare to sovereignty. (Never thoughts that Russia itself was created by Eastern Europeans colonising huge swathes of Eurasia.)

Starting with the election of Prince Rurik to the throne of Novgorod in 862 AD, he described how successive empires, together with the Soviet Union, formed the fashionable boundaries of Ukraine by transferring land from Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Crimea.

“So,” Putin concluded, “we have every reason to affirm that Ukraine is an artificial state that was shaped at Stalin’s will.”

Putin calls Ukraine an ‘artificial state shaped at Stalin’s will’

Carlson rapidly pushed again, asking the president if he thought that Hungary had the suitable to take its land again from Ukraine, or that different nations have the suitable to return to their Seventeenth-century borders.

After an extended pause, Putin replied that he wasn’t positive – however that, given the character of Stalin’s repressive regime, it could be “understandable” in the event that they tried.

He then instructed a private anecdote about taking a highway journey via the Soviet Union within the early Nineteen Eighties and encountering Hungarian Ukrainians, who nonetheless spoke Hungarian and thought of themselves Hungarians.

At least, he clarified, he had by no means instructed Hungarian president Viktor Orban to his face that he may annex any a part of Ukraine.

Putin says it could be ‘comprehensible’ if Hungary annexed elements of Ukraine

‘Stop supplying weapons and it is going to be over inside weeks’

Back within the current day, Putin had a easy demand for the United States: cease supplying weapons to Ukraine.

Do that, the president proclaimed, and the entire warfare “will be over within weeks”.

That reasonably ominous assertion got here in response to Carlson asking whether or not Putin was doing all the things he may to discover a diplomatic resolution, and why he could not merely get on the telephone to Joe Biden to finish the battle – which Carlson has repeatedly described as a proxy warfare between the US and Russia.

“What’s to work out? It’s very simple,” stated Putin. “If you wish to cease preventing, you should cease supplying weapons… what’s simpler? Why would I name him?

“What should I talk him about? Or beg him for what?

“‘You are going to deliver such and such weapons to Ukraine – oh, I’m afraid, please don’t’? What is there to talk about?”

Although Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has insisted that his country is not losing the war, some experts are sceptical about his ability to retake the territory still occupied by Russia.

After stunning the world by repulsing Russia’s initial invasion, Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive has stalled, and future support from the US and the European Union is in limbo after objections from sceptical politicians.

Putin claims Boris Johnson shot down peace attempts

Throughout the interview, Putin insisted that Russia is willing to negotiate and that Ukraine and the USA, rather than the country that invaded Ukraine, are the main barriers to peace.

As part of that, he referenced longstanding reports in Ukrainian and other media that a potential peace deal was scuppered in April 2022 by then British prime minister Boris Johnson.

“[Zelensky] put his signature and then he himself said, ‘we were ready to sign it and the war would have been over long ago’. However, Prime Minister Johnson came talk to us out of it, and we’ve missed that chance,” Putin said.

“Where is Mr Johnson now? And the war continues.”

Johnson himself has denied those claims, calling them “total nonsense” and “Russian propaganda”.

And while his opposition to negotiations with Putin is a matter of public record, the idea that he was the deciding factor in Ukraine’s decision – or that he shot down a peace deal that would otherwise have been viable – is far from proven.

No plans to release jailed US journalist

Carlson’s interview with Putin offered slim hope for Evan Gershkovich, an American journalist for The Wall Street Journal who has been imprisoned in Russia on charges of espionage for nearly a year.

“I want to ask you directly,” said Carlson, “without getting into the details 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.”

After a long pause, and a heavy sigh, Putin refused. He claimed that Gershkovich was “caught red handed” receiving classified information, “and doing it covertly”.

He also suggested that Gershkovich was “working for the US special services” and was “essentially controlled by the US authorities”.

The Journal has insisted that Mr Gershkovich is harmless and that his actions fell strictly beneath the umbrella of reliable journalism.

Carlson, a fellow journalist, however appeared at the least considerably sympathetic to Putin’s framing, saying: “The guy’s obviously not a spy, he’s a kid. And maybe he was breaking your laws in some way, but he’s not a super-spy.”

‘De-Nazification’ means no matter we are saying it means

Putin, alongside many Russian propogandists, has lengthy claimed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was about “de-Nazifying” the nation. He repeated these claims at size in Thursday’s interview.

However, regardless of repeated probing from Carlson, he by no means fairly managed to outline precisely what “de-Nazification” would imply or why it justified an armed invasion.

He described how some Ukrainian nationalists collaborated with the Nazi occupation in the course of the Second World War, and claimed that the nation stays a hotbed of neo-Nazism as we speak.

Putin repeats de-Nazification declare, meanders round Carlson questions

(He didn’t point out the Soviet normal Andrey Vlasov, who led a brigade of Russian collaborators in opposition to Stalin’s forces, or the truth that Putin’s Russia has served as an inspiration for quite a few neo-Nazis within the US and Europe.)

Hence, Putin claimed, Russia’s warfare in Ukraine can’t finish as a result of such ideologies haven’t but been stamped out, and nor has the Ukrainian authorities agreed to take action as a part of a peace course of.

Carlson tried to push his pet subjects, with little success

One hanging side of the interview was how often Carlson, who was fired by Fox News final yr quite a few accusations of bigotry and deceptive journalism, took the chance to push his specific interest horses.

Faced with a kind of distinctive alternative to confront one of the highly effective males on the planet, who’s liable for launching one of many bloodiest conflicts on European soil in many years, Carlson selected to quiz Putin about whether or not he was a “Christian leader” – and different subjects near Carlson’s coronary heart.

“Do you see the supernatural at work as you look out across what’s happening in the world now? Do you see God at work? Do you ever think to yourself, ‘these are forces that are not human’?”

After a pause, Putin answered: “No, to be honest. I don’t think so.”

At two factors, Carlson – a longtime Sinosceptic – requested Putin concerning the rising hazard of China to the US and different nations, corresponding to asking if he was nervous that growing nations had been changing into “dominated” by Chinese affect.

“We have heard these bogeyman stories before,” stated Putin. “China’s foreign policy is not aggressive; its idea is always to look for compromise…. it is to your own detriment, Mr Tucker, that you are limiting cooperation with China.”

Carlson additionally often sought Putin’s settlement on his perception that the US and different nations are not managed by elected politicians, however by a deep state forms, or that Ukraine is successfully managed by overseas pursuits.

Putin, although, didn’t at all times play ball, saying that he believed Zelensky has the liberty to barter a peace deal, and {that a} change of opinion amongst US elites may help that.

On one among these subjects, at the least, Putin was expansive: the specter of synthetic intelligence and the prospect of utilizing expertise to create a brand new type of humanity.

“Due to genetic researches, it is now possible to create a superhuman: a specialised human being, a genetically engineered athlete, scientist, military man….

“The time will come to achieve a world settlement on how one can regulate this stuff.”

A softball encounter with lots of agreement

In advance of his interview, Carlson made the bold claim that not a “single Western journalist” had bothered to interview the Russian president since the conflict began nearly two years ago.

He was quickly contradicted by the Kremlin itself, which said that many other reporters had asked and been turned down because of their supposed pro-Western bias. Carlson, meanwhile, was chosen because “he has a place which differs” from other English-language media.

Indeed, Carlson has a long history of pro-Putin advocacy. In 2017, he asked: “Why is Vladimir Putin such a foul man?” In 2019, he claimed the US should “take the facet of Russia” in any conflict with Ukraine. Ever since, he has opposed American support for the war and defended Russia’s conduct.

Thursday’s interview largely continued in that vein. Although Carlson sometimes tried to grill the Russian leader or hold him to account, there were also plenty of soft-serve questions and chummy exchanges.

When Carlson asked Putin who he thought blew up the Nord Stream oil pipeline, which runs under the sea between Russia and Germany, the two men quickly agreed that it was the CIA or some other Nato agency.

They also agreed that American support for Ukraine is destroying the international stature of the US dollar, and that Nato helped provoke the war by accepting Eastern European countries. (The question of why so many of Russia’s neighbours and near-neighbours felt they needed to join a defensive organisation was not one that Carlson troubled to ask.)

Nor did Carlson spend much time pushing back on Putin’s claims or challenging his decision to invade Ukraine in the first place.

Perhaps, then, it was fitting that Putin was the one to end the interview.

“Shall we finish right here, or is there anything?” said the 71-year-old, after concluding his answer to a question.

“No, I feel that is nice,” murmured Carlson. “Thank you, Mr President,”