By George Miller, 2-8-24, updated 2-9-24
In a 2+ hour interview, Russian President Vladmir Putin lectured Tucker Carlson on his long, detailed account of Russian history relating to its claims on Ukraine, reminding the audience that Carlson’s education was in history and attempting to show that Ukraine has been part of the “Russian Nation” going back to 862 A.D. and strengthening links over the years. He mentioned that his namesake, Prince Vladmir, had been baptized Russian Orthodox and spread it to his staff, then all of what is now Ukraine and that it is part of the common culture and so is the Russian language and most customs. He claimed that that the concept of Ukrainian ethnic identity was invented, The lecture continued on and on with his justification of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and attacks on US policy over the years. Putin seemed more in control of the interview, except for occasional incisive questions, or perhaps Carlson just wanted to hear what he said and let him reveal himself.
You should watch this interview if you have any real interest in history and how Russia fits in. It’s a lot different from anything most of us learned in school and certainly much more detailed. It would be interesting to learn what serious historians think of Putin’s version he told the world in this interview, which many millions, and certainly the power brokers, will watch.
Citizens Journal and Tucker Carlson do not necessarily endorse anything that Putin said in the interview and are just presenting this to you so you can better know how they think and communicate, then make up your own mind. It seemed obvious that Putin was attempting to sow discord among his opposition, but he also seemed earnest in trying to make his case.
There are some who have challenged the propriety and even the right of Carlson to interview Putin, suggesting that it would give Putin a propaganda advantage. Others have thought that they want to know the thoughts of the leader of a powerful country which has forcibly taken some of the lands lost when the Soviet empire crumbled. We have heard (unverified) that some EU officials have threatened sanctions and even Carlson’s arrest and that Ukraine put him on a hit list.
Putin said the lands of Ukraine have changed hands multiple times, that some are actually ethnic Polish, Hungarian and others, but it is predominantly a Russian ethnic, cultural and religious land. He mentioned that some nationalistic forces in Ukraine had allied with the Nazis, that there was still a strong Nazi influence in Ukraine, that Nazi era leaders were still respected and admired and that “Denazification” was an important goal. He said that Nazi sympathizers there had helped Germany liquidate Poles, Jews and Russians in the WWII era. Carlson asked him if he was good with Hungary reclaiming what Putin said were Hungarian lands and he didn’t rule that out.
Carlson asked him if he was satisfied with having the land he had already taken and how could Russia “DeNazify” parts of a country they don’t control? This might seem to also ask the question whether Putin intends to control the whole country to do that, which Putin didn’t really answer. DeNazification was one of Putin’s justifications for the invasion.
Putin repeatedly suggested that Carlson was trying to make this interview into a “talk show” instead of a serious discussion. He needled Carlson that he had once tried to join the CIA and that it is fortunate that he didn’t succeed and that he, Putin, was in the Russian Intelligence service.
Carlson persisted in asking challenging questions. Some will complain that he did not challenge or fact check Putin much, but let him talk. In doing so, he revealed much of the man, his convictions and the Russian view of foreign relations, especially in Eastern Europe, which is very different from what our leadership thinks and vastly different from what the public at large thinks or knows, or thinks it knows.
During the interview, Putin was very calm and measured, had obviously done his homework and made numerous barbs at US policies and actions over the years and up until now. He believes that “American financial interests” drive policies and nominal leadership in the USA and that “agencies” have driven or overridden nominal leaders over the years. He singled out the Bushes and Trump as competent and easier to work with. He said the presumption that Bush Jr is a “county boy” was incorrect. After first answering that he didn’t remember and that he had other things to remember, Putin said he has not talked with Joe Biden since April 2022.
Putin stated that negotiations on the Ukraine conflict were competed in Istanbul and were signed by the Ukraine rep, but were rejected and never implemented. He said that Russia is willing to resume negotiations and that they are not the impediment to doing that. He said any belief that Russia can be defeated on the battlefield, as he said NATO believes, are erroneous and that Russia will not, cannot be defeated. When Carlson asked him how to end the war, he said to stop sending arms to Ukraine and they will seek to end the war within weeks. He mentioned that Ukraine has ruled out any negotiations. He suggested that the U.S. had a part in that. If Ukraine ran out of arms, it wouldn’t be long before Russia could crush it.
He said that this was merely a continuation of the 2014 war, which he claimed Ukraine had started. But in 2022, Russia first amassed 200,000 troops on the border and then attacked from multiple directions, at one time threatening to engulf the capital, Kyiv, but were driven back decisively by Ukrainian forces. Russia made huge inroads in Eastern Ukraine in the territories they claimed were the most Russian of Ukraine, installing their own leadership and later greatly fortifying those areas. Ukraine drove Russia back considerably after that and geared up for a big spring effective last year, but Russian forces had fortified the area even more and actually gained ground. Losses on both sides have been very large and tragic. Russia has made huge sacrifices in men and materiel to make its advances. Millions have been driven from their homes in Ukraine.
At one point, after Putin mentioned the Christian Heritage, Carlson asked if Christians should be peaceful and nonviolent. Putin claimed self defense is a valid justification for violence, seemingly implying that applied to the Ukraine situation.
Putin revealed Russian fear and opposition to encroachment by NATO, western missile defense systems and economic warfare. He did not acknowledge, nor did Carlson even bring up, the perceived Russian threats which have encouraged other nations to join NATO. Even the previously neutral Sweden, which has been really rattled by Russian military activities and threats, which have not been confined to the Ukraine, is joining, along with Finland.
Putin said that after the dissolution of the Soviet Union that they thought they would work out peaceful arrangements with the West/USA, but it doesn’t seem as though the West agreed. He lamented American interference in Ukrainian politics, elections and coups.
Putin denied that Russia has designs on other lands. He even suggested that Poland had triggered WWII by its obstinacy with Germany. He felt that a world war would be a disaster for all mankind, while mentioning that Russia was the first and leader in hypersonic missile technology and deployment.
Carlson asked Putin who he thought blew up the Russian gas pipeline. Putin didn’t name a perpetrator, but mentioned that you should look for someone with the motive and the means. He slyly seemed to imply that he thought it was the USA or one of its actors. He stressed that great harm to Europe was wrought by the destruction of one pipeline, the closure of its twin and shutdown of pipelines in Poland. He said that Europe is forced to pay exorbitant prices for imported LNG. No one mentioned it in the interview, but Biden recently unilaterally “suspended” US LNG exports. We are led to believe this was for CO2 reduction- Global warming and all that.
Here’s how the supposedly objective NPR handled it: https://www.npr.org/2024/02/08/1230024588/tucker-carlson-putin-interview-video
George Miller is Publisher and Co-Founder of Citizens Journal Florida, based in Fernandina Beach. He is a “retired” operations management consultant, software and publishing executive (10 years) and manufacturing management professional.