Instead of the interview of the century, a boring history class: Tucker Carlson's conversation with Putin

It seemed like a friendly chat between two people who share certain values ​​and points of view, but with some valuable and complex questions.

Tucker Carlson found it rather challenging to interview Vladimir Putin, an authoritarian leader who is not used to answering difficult questions or giving too many interviews to Western journalists.

The interview that was sold as the journalistic event of the century turned out to be more like a boring history class led by the Russian leader. In more than two hours of conversation, he barely let Carlson speak and dedicated himself to recounting a strong historical revisionist view of Russia, the fall of the USSR, the creation of Ukraine as a —according to him— an “artificial” state and the often repeated comment about the threat that NATO represents to Moscow due to its alleged expansion plans.

Putin, who at times fell into contradictions, did not actually say anything that he had not repeated in recent years after the formal outbreak of the war in Ukraine. In fact, he recycled the justifications he publicly gave for the invasion of Ukraine, including the “denazification” of the neighboring country.

“If they consider themselves a separate people, they have the right to do so. But not on the basis of Nazism, the Nazi ideology,” said Putin, who had previously said that Ukraine, in reality, was a non-existent, “artificial” state; and later claimed that it was a “satellite” nation of the United States.

During the conversation, Putin promised that he would not attack Poland or the Baltic countries. The only way, according to Putin, for him to order attacks against these countries is for those nations to become aggressors against Russia. However, Putin himself had said that he would not invade Ukraine, and he ended up doing so.

He also sent repeated messages to Washington to refrain from sending troops to fight in Ukraine against Russia. This situation, he warned, could generate a horrible escalation of the conflict on a global level.

“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. Does the United States need this? What for? Thousands of miles away from your national territory. Don’t you have anything better to do? You have issues on the border. Issues with migration, issues with the national debt. More than $33 trillion. You have nothing better to do. So you should fight in Ukraine. Wouldn’t it be better to negotiate with Russia? Make an agreement,” Putin said.

Putin tells Tucker Carlson he is willing to release WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich under “certain terms”
Tucker Carlson interviews Vladimir Putin. (Capture of the interview published on Tucker Carlson Network)

Throughout the interview, the Russian leader also told Carlson that Russia has long approached the United States and NATO to cooperate in terms of global security. But, according to Putin, the result was always the same: hesitant responses from the West and final rejection.

In fact, in one section of the interview, the Russian leader seemed to express some resentment towards the United States and the West, stating that, after the Cold War, Moscow believed that Washington and European nations would be much more open with Russia, hoping to be “welcomed into the brotherly family of civilized nations.”

“Nothing like this happened. You tricked us,” Putin told Carlson, referring to the United States.

“The promise was that NATO would not expand eastward. But it happened five times. There were five waves of expansion,” he continued. “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.’”

In particular, he asserted that, on one occasion, he seriously asked former President Bill Clinton if Russia could join NATO. In principle, the Democrat had given an affirmative answer, but hours later, after chatting with his advisors, the then U.S. president conveyed to Putin the impossibility of the Russian nation joining NATO.

Putin himself encouraged Carlson to ask Clinton about this situation, ensuring that the former Democratic president would corroborate the version he presented to the American journalist.

However, despite some fair questions from Tucker Carlson and some critical lines against Putin, such as when he told him, “You are clearly bitter about that” (Western rudeness), or when he questioned Putin’s justification for invading Ukraine,  after being asked whether other nations in the region also have the right to return to their past borders, the former presenter of Fox News left many topics untouched which left him open to criticism.

For example, Carlson did not ask about Russia’s attacks on civilian areas or critical infrastructure in Ukraine, which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.

He also did not mention the accusations of war crimes against the Russian leader.

Likewise, Carlson did not speak about the Kremlin’s internal repressive policies against its political adversaries. In that sense, Putin emerged unscathed, although it is difficult to imagine that this interview was conducted without a previously approved script.

On the other hand, Tucker Carlson did feed Putin some superficial topics that continued the Kremlin’s rhetoric, such as when he asked Putin about who blew up the Nord Stream gas pipeline. The Russian president joked: “You for sure.”

“I was busy that day. I did not blow up Nord Stream. Thank you though,” Tucker replied.

“You personally may have an alibi, but the CIA has no such alibi,” Putin concluded.

In that exchange, Carlson asked Putin an interesting question: Why didn’t he publish the evidence against the CIA if that represented a propaganda victory for the Kremlin against the West?

But it seemed that the Russian president saw it coming: “In the war of propaganda, it is very difficult to defeat the United States because the United States controls all the world’s media and many European media. The ultimate beneficiary of the biggest European media are American financial institutions.”

However, Carlson had some excellent moments that forced Putin off script, especially when he made a staunch defense of freedom of expression in the case of journalist Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal who has been behind bars for almost a year on Russian territory.

This was Carlson’s most incisive moment, as he spent several minutes refuting the unfounded version that Gershkovich is a Western spy and asked Putin on several occasions to release the reporter.

“But are you suggesting he was working for the U.S. government or NATO, or he was just a reporter who was given material he wasn’t supposed to have?” Carlson asked. “Those seem like very different, very different things,” he continued. “He’s a 32-year-old newspaper reporter.”

At the end of the interview, Putin was clear and stated that work can be done to get Gershkovich back to the United States and even stated that both countries are in constant communication to make that happen.

“I do not rule out that the person you refer to, Mr. Gershkovich, may return to his motherland. But at the end of the day, it does not make any sense to keep him in prison in Russia. We want the U.S. Special Services to think about how they can contribute to achieving the goals our special services are pursuing. We are ready to talk. Moreover, the talks are underway and 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,” Putin said.