The Ukraine war is Ukraine’s doing, President Putin told American news anchor Tucker Carlson in a two-hour-long interview in Moscow. He indicated he would be willing to end the conflict, but President Zelensky was the problem.
“The President of Ukraine issued a decree prohibiting negotiations with us. Let him cancel that decree. We have not refused negotiations. It was they who publicly refused,” said Putin, claiming that Zelensky had done so at the behest of the West that was backing anti-Russian forces in Ukraine. He hinted that as part of the Russian commitment to “de-Nazification” in Ukraine, Zelensky would have to go.
He said the turning point for Russia was the unseating of then Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, in mass protests supported by the West.
“They (the protestors) organised the coup, they created the threat to Crimea, which we had to take under our protection. They launched the war in Donbas in 2014 with the use of artillery and aircraft against civilians. This is when it all started. They started a large-scale military operation and another one. All this against the background of military development and the opening of Nato’s doors. How could we not express concern over what was happening? This would have been culpable negligence. It’s just that the US political leadership pushed us to the line we could not cross because doing so would have ruined Russia itself.”
He had no doubt that Russia would emerge the victor in Ukraine, underscoring how despite Western sanctions, his country remained the largest economy in Europe.
“Up until now, there has been the uproar and screaming about inflicting a strategic defeat to Russia on the battlefield. But now they are apparently coming to realize that it is difficult to achieve, if possible, at all. In my opinion, it is impossible by definition,” he said in the interview.
Asked by Carlson if a possible change in the US presidency could improve relations between Moscow and Washington, Putin responded that US politics was complicated and it depended not on the personality but what he called the “elites” in the US to change their minds.
“It is not about the leader it is not about the personality of a particular person. I had a very good relationship with President Bush Jr … it is about the elites’ mindset. If the idea of domination at any cost based on forceful action, dominates the American mindset nothing will change. It will get worse.”
Carlson’s interview with Putin, the first by an American anchor since the Ukrainian conflict has broken out has earned him both praise and criticism. Former Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy tweeted on the interview that “Tucker doesn’t treat Putin with kid gloves. I love it.” Elon Musk on whose platform X, Carlson’s interview was disseminated, tweeted. “Arrest those calling for his arrest!” in response to online rumours that the ex-Fox News journalist may be arrested for his interview with Putin on his return to America.
Politico magazine gave its take on the interview, pointing out that Carlson did not ask about reported Russian war crimes in Bucha and Mariupol or the international arrest warrant for Putin or the treatment of dissident Alexi Navalny. But Putin is ready to exchange Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich for Russian FSB agent Vadim Krasikov, held in a German prison for killing a former Chechen insurgent.