Vladimir Putin, in an interview with American TV personality Tucker Carlson, said that the Ukraine war could easily be ended if the US wanted it.
“If you really want to stop fighting, you need to stop supplying weapons. It will be over within a few weeks. That’s it,” Putin claimed, adding that it was up to the U.S. to tell Ukraine to come to the negotiating table.
Tucker Carlson laughed, listened – and then listened some more.
Putin said that the U.S. political system is an undrained swamp, and American democracy an illusion.
“It sounds like you’re describing a system that’s not run by the people who are elected, in your telling,” a helpful Carlson summarized for the president.
“That’s right, that’s right,” a pleased Putin responded. “It is not about the personality of the leader. It is about the elite’s mindset.”
Putin said that he did not remember when he last spoke to Joe Biden.
During the American’s much-hyped encounter with the Russian president, his fixed, fascinated expression slipped a few times.
Especially when Putin’s promise of a 30-second history lesson became a 30-something minute rant.
But for the most part, Carlson seemed to lap up what Russia’s president was telling him.
Putin was fully in charge of this encounter and for large parts of it his interviewer barely got a word in.
Instead of pushing the Russian leader – indicted as a suspected war criminal – on his full-scale invasion of Ukraine and challenging his false assertions, Carlson swerved off-piste to talk God and the Russian soul.
It was a full two hours into his interview before the former Fox News anchor asked about the US journalist Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested last year in Russia while doing his job and accused of espionage.
Carlson suggested Vladimir Putin might release the reporter into his custody, providing a trophy to return with from his trip.
What Putin gave was the strongest hint yet of what he wants in return.
He talked about a Russian “patriot” who had “eliminated a bandit” in a European capital, seeming to confirm previous reports that Russia is demanding a prisoner swap with Vadim Krasikov.
The assassin, a suspected Russian intelligence agent, killed a Chechen separatist in a Berlin park in 2019.
Putin claimed negotiations were under way and “an agreement could be reached”.
The whole encounter in the Kremlin opened with a history lecture.
Putin wrote a long essay before the war that denied Ukraine’s existence as a sovereign state. He now appears to have learned it by heart.
He delivered his thesis, eyes burning with conviction, as Carlson’s own burned with boredom and disbelief.
For fans who managed to stay tuned any longer, the reward was a re-run of Putin’s top, twisted arguments.
He aired his regular grievance about Nato expanding east into what Russia sees as its area of influence. “We never agreed Ukraine could join Nato,” as Putin put it.
But it’s having an aggressive, unpredictable neighbour like Russia that’s led Ukraine to seek extra security.
Putin has always characterised the mass public protests in Kyiv a decade ago as part of a Western-backed “coup”, which they were not.
He also called the fighting in the eastern Donbas that Moscow provoked a civil war.
The whole interview may be seen on YouTube:
Source: BBC, YouTube, Politico.