Analysis: Ukraine, Trump, Musk And More Takeaways From Tucker Carlson’s Interview With Vladimir Putin

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 OverCritical 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.”Now Read: ‘There’s No Stopping Elon Musk,’ Says Putin In Tucker Carlson ChatKremlin Chose Interviewer CarefullyIt 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 Putin.Anne Applebaum, author and journalist for The Economist, wrote on X: “Many journalists have interviewed Putin, who also makes frequent, widely covered speeches. Carlson’s interview is different because he is not a journalist, he’s a propagandist, with a history of helping autocrats conceal corruption.”In an article last year for Atlantic Magazine, she called Carson “the American face of authoritarian propaganda.”Another Notch For The Trump CampaignCarson’s typical audience would vote for Donald Trump should he be — as is likely — selected to represent the Republican Party at the November Presidential election.This made Carlson’s interview a good platform for Putin to express his admiration for the former and possibly future president.“I enjoyed a personal relationship with President Trump,” Putin said, adding that he also had similar relations with George W. Bush.In contrast, Putin said he couldn’t remember the last time he spoke to President Joe Biden, adding: “Why would I call him? What should I talk to him about? Or beg him for what?”Possible Prisoner Exchange For Gershkovich’s Release?One of Carson’s bolder lines of questioning came when asked about Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been held without trial on espionage charges for nearly a year.Carson said Gershkovich was just “a kid — and obviously not a spy.” Putin claimed he had been caught with confidential information.But the idea of prisoner swap was raised, with Putin mentioning an unamed “person serving a sentence in an allied country of the U.S.,” alluding to, according to Politico, Vadim Krasikov, who assassinated a Chechen insurgency leader in Berlin in 2019.Putin Likes Musk“There are reports that Elon Musk has already implanted a chip in the human brain in the U.S.,” Putin said, in what appeared to be a suggestion of capitalist mind control.But his admiration for the Tesla and SpaceX boss was clear: “I think there’s no stopping Elon Musk. He will do as he sees fit. Nevertheless, you’ll need to find some common ground with him. Search for ways to persuade him. I think he’s a smart person. I truly believe he is.”Now Read: Oil From Russia Hits US Shores Under Sanction-Busting LoopholePhoto via Shutterstock.

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