In his first interview with a U.S. journalist since the invasion of Ukraine, Russian leader Vladimir Putin said the fight would go on, but that he has no interest in further expansion of the conflict.
In what most commentators agree was a less than hard-hitting grilling from conservative political writer and broadcaster Tucker Carlson, we learned little that we didn’t already know — apart, maybe, from Putin’s admiration for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who announced on X last night that he was watching the interview.
So, what can we take away from the interview? There were guarded comments, barely hidden messages and the odd moments of wit — many of which were open to interpretation.
The following are five key points condensed from Tucker’s two-hour interview and this author’s own interpretations:
War In Ukraine Is Far From Over
Critical of the support given to Ukraine by the U.S. and European countries, Putin said the easiest way to stop the war would be for the west to stop supplying Ukraine with weapons.
He maintained that the main aim of his war on Ukraine is “de-nazification,” a claim that seems spurious given the popularity of the country’s Jewish president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
He advised that instead of sending aid and weapons, the more useful role in the war for the U.S. would be to bring Ukraine to the negotiating table. But when asked if he’d be satisfied with the territory Russia has already seized during the conflict, he just returned to his point about de-nazification.
Putin said he is not interested in reclaiming sovereignty over other former Soviet-occupied countries such as Poland and Latvia.
When asked would there be a scenario in which troops would be sent to Poland, Putin replied: “Only in one case, if Poland attacks Russia. Why? Because we have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else.”
Kremlin Chose Interviewer Carefully
It appeared as though the interview was orchestrated by the Kremlin. Carlson was almost certainly briefed beforehand on what questions Putin would or wouldn’t answer.
Tucker, himself a Putin apologist, has questioned U.S. support for Ukraine, and many other journalists were enraged when he announced he’d been selected to interview…