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Vladimir Putin Takes Hard Line Against Ukraine in Interview with Tucker Carlson

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Vladimir Putin Takes Hard Line Against Ukraine in Interview with Tucker Carlson

President Vladimir Putin said Russia has not yet achieved its goals in Ukraine and added in an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that he would consider negotiations if the United States stops supplying weapons to kyiv.

“We have not yet achieved our goals,” Putin said in the Feb. 6 interview in Moscow, which Carlson posted Thursday on his website. It is the first time that the Russian leader has given an interview to a Western media figure since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“We are conveying to American leaders that if they really want to stop military action, then they should stop supplying weapons, then everything will be over in a few weeks and we can discuss some terms,” Putin said.

However, the United States and its allies have rejected Russia’s demands for such capitulation. and there are no signs that either side is ready for serious talks as the war approaches two years.

When Carlson asked whether the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could accept current Russian control of occupied Ukrainian territory, Putin responded: “I said let them think about how to do it with dignity. “There are options if there is the will.”

When asked if he was willing to say “congratulations, NATO, you won” and keep the situation on the ground as it is, the president responded: “It is a topic for negotiations that no one is willing to carry out or, to put it this way, more accurately, they are willing but do not know how to do it.”

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His comments came after Bloomberg News reported last month that Putin had sounded out the United States through indirect channels. to indicate that he is open to discussing ending the war, including potentially about future security arrangements for Ukraine.

Carlson, a conservative commentator and supporter of Donald Trump, has used his media platform to question US support for Ukraine and defend the Kremlin. Russian state television periodically broadcasts fragments of his publications.

Prisoner exchange

In the interview, Putin suggested a deal could be reached to free jailed American journalist Evan Gershkovich, hinting that the Wall Street Journal reporter could return in a prisoner swap. “We have certain conditions that are being discussed through channels between special services,” Putin, 71, said. “I think an agreement can be reached.”

He alluded to the case of a man he called a “patriot” who was jailed for murder in a European country, an apparent reference to Vadim Krasikov, who is serving a life sentence in Germany for the murder of a former Chechen rebel in Berlin in 2019. Russia has previously suggested it is seeking Krasikov’s return in prisoner swap talks.

In response to Carlson’s questions, Putin also reiterated charges against Gershkovich that have been roundly rejected by the Wall Street Journal and the U.S. government, which says the journalist was “unjustly detained” by Moscow.

In a statement after the Putin interview was published, the Wall Street Journal said it felt “encouraged to see Russia’s desire to reach a deal that brings Evan home,” calling the espionage accusations against him “fiction.”

Most of Carlson’s two-hour conversation with the Russian leader was devoted to repetitions of Putin’s long-standing criticism of the United States. and his allies, and his controversial views on the history of relations between Ukraine and Russia.

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Presidential politics

With the 2024 US presidential election around the corner, Putin dismissed Carlson’s suggestion that a change of administration in the United States could lead to a different approach to the war. “It’s not a question of the leader,” he said. “It’s the mentality of the elite.”

Putin added that he had “a good personal relationship” with President George W. Bush and a similar one with Trump when he was in the White House. He said he had not spoken to President Joe Biden since before the invasion of Ukraine.

Trump, who appears likely to capture the Republican nomination as he seeks to return to the White House, has said he would consider Carlson as a possible running mate against Biden in November. Before the interview, Carlson said in a video that “most Americans have no idea why Putin invaded Ukraine or what his goals are now.”

Welcome to Moscow

For more than two hours, Carlson did little to challenge Putin as the Russian leader laid out his claims for why the United States and its allies are to blame for the war in Ukraine. Although Carlson said before the Moscow meeting that “not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview” Putin, the Kremlin said it had rejected numerous requests from other media outlets, preferring Carlson’s less confrontational approach.

The former Fox News personality was welcomed in Moscow even as the Kremlin has imposed the strictest crackdown in decades to crush domestic criticism of the war. Opponents of the invasion have been imprisoned or fled into exile, while last month Lawmakers unanimously approved a new law that allows the state to confiscate the property of anyone convicted of “discrediting” the actions of the Russian military in Ukraine.

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The interview took place as more than $60 billion in U.S. military aid to Ukraine is mired in partisan disputes, with Biden blaming Trump for thwarting the most recent attempt in Congress to reach a deal. Ukraine has warned that it is running out of ammunition to defend itself against Russian forces occupying parts of the east and south of the country.

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