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Four highlights from Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin

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Tucker Carlson on Thursday released his interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which found the two discussing the war in Ukraine, NATO expansion and Russia’s relationship with the United States.

The interview—recorded on Tuesday and first released exclusively online via the Tucker Carlson Network—runs for over two hours, during which Putin also shared his thoughts on topics such as AI (international regulations may someday be needed) and on the next president of the U.S.

After a somewhat contentious start, which saw Putin ask his interviewer if they were “having a talk show or a serious conversation,” the two men had a broad-ranging talk and even later laughed about Putin’s “talk show” remark.

Below are some of the key highlights from the interview.

Tucker Carlson and Vladimir Putin
Tucker Carlson, left, is shown speaking at the Turning Point Action USA conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, on July 15, 2023, while Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, is pictured at an event in Saint…


Photos by GIORGIO VIERA/Gavriil GRIGOROV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Putin Said Peace With Ukraine Is Still Possible

When Carlson asked if he thought Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky still “has the freedom to negotiate a settlement to this conflict,” Putin answered that he believes so.

He then claimed that after Russian negotiators attempted to reach a peace deal with Ukraine during the early stages of the war that began in February 2022, Western countries persuaded Zelensky to keep fighting.

Putin then said Zelensky had signed a decree that forbids negotiating with Russia.

“But how are we going to negotiate if he forbade himself and everyone to do this?” Putin said. “We know that he is putting forward some ideas about this settlement, but in order to agree on something, we need to have a dialogue.”

NATO Weighs on Putin’s Mind

Putin addressed his opposition to the expansion of NATO at length during the interview, but he also discussed how he had once asked about Russia joining the alliance.

According to Putin, he once spoke to then-President Bill Clinton about the prospect of Russia becoming a member of the bloc. He claimed Clinton at first answered, “I think so,” but later that night the American leader allegedly backtracked after talking to his team, telling Putin that Russia joining NATO wasn’t possible at that time.

“If he had said yes, the process of rapprochement would have commenced, and eventually it might have happened if we had seen some sincere wish on the side of our partners. But it didn’t happen,” Putin told Carlson. “Well, no means no.”

He Feels U.S. Fears China More Than Russia

Carlson and Putin spoke about how the U.S. and Russia seemed as though they would have good relations after the fall of the Soviet Union, but that hasn’t been the case. The conservative media personality brought up how Putin has said the West fears a strong Russia and asked why that is, if the U.S. doesn’t fear China.

“The West is afraid of strong China more than it fears a strong Russia, because Russia has 150 million people and China has 1.5 billion population. And its economy is growing by leaps and bounds, or 5 percent a year,” Putin answered.

He continued: “China’s potential is enormous. It is the biggest economy in the world today in terms of purchasing power parity and the size of the economy. It is already overtaking the United States quite a long time ago, and it is growing at a rapid clip.”

The Russian president then moved away from the thought by saying, “Let’s not talk about who is afraid of whom. Let’s not reason in such terms.”

Putin Offered His Thoughts on the Next U.S. President

Putin stayed away from endorsing any candidate in the 2024 election, but he said that he doesn’t remember the last time he spoke with President Joe Biden. He also said he had a good relationship with former President Donald Trump when the Republican was in the White House.

His highest praise, though, was given to former President George W. Bush.

“I had a very good relationship with Bush. I know that in the United States, he was portrayed as some kind of a country boy who does not understand much. I assure you that this is not the case,” Putin said.

After adding that Bush “made a lot of mistakes with regard to Russia,” Putin said that he “had a very good relationship with him.”

When asked by Carlson if relations with Russia would improve with a new administration after Biden, Putin said “it is not about the leader,” but rather the decisions of the “ruling elites.”