During the interview, Putin stated that Ukraine decided to terminate its negotiations with Russia at the request of the US.
On Thursday, American journalist Tucker Carlson aired his interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, marking the first occasion of a Western journalist conducting such an interview since the launch of the special military operation in Ukraine in February 2022.
Putin explains ‘history of Ukraine’
During the interview, Putin began by outlining the centuries-old history of Ukraine, claiming that the term originated from the Poles. He argued that the southern Russian territories, previously part of the Polish-Lithuanian state, were considered a suburb by the Poles.
“It didn’t define it as belonging to any ethnic group,” Putin told Carlson.
“What matters is that the war began and Poland fell prey to the policies it had pursued against Czechoslovakia. This under the well-known Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, a part of the territory including western Ukraine was to be given to Russia, thus Russia, which was then named the USSR regained its historical lands,”Putin
“Romania and Hungary had some of their lands taken away and given to the Soviet Ukraine, and they still remain part of Ukraine. So in this sense, we have every reason to affirm that Ukraine is an artificial state that was shaped at Stalin’s will,” Putin explained.
‘Coup in Ukraine provoked the conflict’: Putin
Carlson asked Putin if he had suggested to Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary that he could claim “part of Ukraine.”
Putin responded unequivocally, “never”.
“In 2008, the doors of NATO were opened for Ukraine. In 2014, there was a coup. They started persecuting those who did not accept the coup. And it was indeed a coup. They created the threat to Crimea, which we had to take under our protection. They launched the war in Donbass in 2014 with the use of aircraft and artillery against civilians. This is when it all started,” said Putin.
The President said that the coup in Ukraine was what provoked the conflict, adding that the CIA did its job to complete the coup.
Putin wanted to negotiate settlement with Ukraine
Putin further mentioned that he had engaged in multiple discussions with the US regarding the militarization of Ukraine by the West. He emphasized that Ukraine had begun preparations for military action.
The Russian president also clarified that he had desired to negotiate a resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.
“We prepared the huge document in Istanbul that was initialed by the head of the Ukrainian delegation. He had fixed his signature to some of the provisions, not to all of it. He put his signature and then he himself said, we were ready to sign it, and the war would have been over long ago. 18 months ago. However, Prime Minister Johnson came, talked Ukraine out of it and we missed that chance,”Putin
Throughout the interview, Putin asserted that Ukraine decided to cease negotiations with Russia under pressure from the US.
De-Nazification one of Putin’s goals
When asked about whether Russia has achieved its objectives, Putin responded that it had not yet done so, as one of its aims is de-Nazification, entailing the prohibition of all neo-Nazi movements.
He elaborated that Ukraine had sought to establish an identity after gaining independence, drawing upon individuals who had collaborated with Adolf Hitler as a basis for that identity.
‘US promised NATO would not expand eastward’
Carlson then questioned the president if he had perceived a physical threat from the West, particularly from NATO, including the possibility of a nuclear threat. Carlson also inquired if this perceived threat had prompted Putin’s actions toward Ukraine.
“The former Russian leadership assumed that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist, and therefore there were no longer any ideological dividing lines. Russia even agreed voluntarily and proactively to the collapse of the Soviet Union and believed that this would be understood by the so-called civilized West as an invitation for cooperation and association. That is what Russia was expecting, both from the United States and this so-called collective West as a whole,” said Putin.
Putin also added that the West had assured Russia that NATO would not expand eastward, yet it had occurred on five separate occasions.
“The promise was that NATO would not expand eastward. But it happened five times. There were five waves of expansion. We tolerated all that. We were trying to persuade them. We were saying, please don’t. We are as bourgeois now as you are. We are a market economy and there is no Communist Party power. Let’s negotiate,” the president explained.
Clinton said ‘Not possible for Russia to join NATO’
The Russian president added that at the start of his presidency, he had asked former President Bill Clinton if it would be possible for Russia to join NATO.
“Well, I became president in 2000. I thought, okay, the Yugoslav issue is over, but we should try to restore relations. Let’s re-open the door that Russia had tried to go through,” he explained.
“At a meeting here in the Kremlin with the outgoing President Bill Clinton, right here in the next room, I said to him, I asked him: ‘Bill, do you think if Russia asked to join NATO, do you think it would happen?’ Suddenly he said, ‘You know, it’s interesting. I think so.’ But in the evening, when we met for dinner, he said: ‘You know, I’ve talked to my team, no, it’s not possible now.’”
Carlson pressed Putin, asking if he would have joined NATO had the former US president agreed at the time. Putin responded that it “might have happened,” but he expressed no bitterness or resentment over the outcome.
‘West is afraid of strong China’
Regarding China, Putin said that the West is more apprehensive about a potent China than it is about a robust Russia, emphasizing China’s vast population of 1.5 billion and its rapidly expanding economy.
When asked about the possibility of the Chinese economy overshadowing BRICS, Putin dismissed such concerns as “boogeyman stories.”
“It is a boogeyman story. We’re neighbors with China. You cannot choose neighbors, just as you cannot choose close relatives. We share a border of 1000km with them. This is number one. Second, we have a centuries-long history of coexistence. We’re used to it. Third, China’s foreign policy philosophy is not aggressive. Its idea is to always look for compromise. And we can see that.”
‘US blew up Nord Stream’
When asked who was responsible for blowing up the Nord Stream, Putin simply said the US, “for sure.”
“But in this case, we should not only look for someone who is interested, but also for someone who has capabilities, because there may be many people interested, but not all of them are capable of sinking to the bottom of the Baltic Sea and carrying out this explosion. These two components should be connected. Who is interested and who is capable of doing it?”