American TV presenter Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, held in the Kremlin and published this Friday (9), had a huge impact, receiving over 100 million views during the day.

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For Putin, it was a guarantee of expressing his narrative about the Ukraine war and his criticism of the West to a large audience in the US. The interview was also widely broadcast in official Russian media.

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For Tucker Carlson, a controversial presenter linked to the American far right and Donald Trump, it was a rare opportunity in which Putin gave an exclusive interview to the international press. At the start of the Ukraine war, Carlson defended Putin’s stance on his incursion into Ukraine and blamed the United States itself for provoking the war.

After the interview, Carlson said he got the impression that Putin was “deeply hurt” by his rejection by the West, while “Europeanism” in Moscow “can not only be seen, but also felt on a cultural level.”

During the interview, one of the topics discussed was the narrative of some Western countries that Russia would be interested in seeking to expand conflicts in Europe, being able to launch new aggressions against Poland or against the Baltic countries, for example.

“You’d have to be an idiot to think they’re going to Vienna, there’s no proof of that,” Carlson said, adding that “professional liars in Washington” are trying to convince Westerners otherwise.

The topic came up during the interview because Poland’s Defense Minister, Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, declared during the week that the country is thinking about a possible conflict with Russia in the event of Ukraine’s defeat in the current war. At the same time, Swedish Defense Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin recently stated that civilians must be prepared to act in a possible war in Europe.

Putin said Russia’s invasion of Poland or Latvia was “out of the question.”

“We have no interest in Poland, nor Latvia, nor anything else. Why should we do this? We simply have no interest. This is simply inciting a threat,” Putin said.

When asked whether the Russian president would be ready to guarantee non-aggression against NATO countries, Putin said:

“This is absolutely impossible. You don’t need to be any kind of analyst: it is contrary to common sense to be drawn into some kind of global conflict. We keep scaring everyone: ‘Tomorrow Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons, tomorrow it will use this – no, later tomorrow’. And what happens?”, he highlighted.

Historical retelling of Ukraine

The Russian president had the opportunity to reiterate his vision on the formation of the State of Ukraine and its historical ties to Moscow, referring to events from the 17th century, when the bank of the Dnieper River, which at the time divided Ukraine, was unified with the Russia. He reiterated the thesis that “Ukraine, in a certain sense, is an artificial state.”

“These are archival documents, copies. Here are letters from Bogdan Khmelnitsky, then the man who controlled power in this part of the Russian lands, which we now call Ukraine. Here are copies of these documents. I will leave them with you as a good memory”, said the president as he handed the journalist a folder of documents as a gift.

When talking about more recent events, the Russian president discussed the deterioration of relations between Russia and NATO, contextualizing Russia’s rapprochement with the West after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In particular, he recalled speaking with President Bill Clinton about Russia joining NATO. Putin first publicly announced that such plans existed in February 2022.

“In a meeting here in the Kremlin with Bill Clinton – right here next to him, in the next room – I said to him, I asked him: listen, Bill, and what do you think, if Russia raised the issue of NATO membership, would you Do you think this is possible? Suddenly he said: you know, this is interesting, I think so. And in the evening, when we already met him at dinner, he says: you know, I talked to my people, with my team – no , now that is impossible”, said the Russian leader.

At the same time, Putin noted that if he had received the answer “yes”, a rapprochement between Russia and NATO would have begun and “ultimately, this could happen if we saw the sincere desire of the partners to achieve this.”

Editing: Thalita Pires


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