The American deep state did everything in its power to prevent Tucker Carlson from interviewing Vladimir Putin, including (if you believe Tucker) hacking his phone. But the Kremlin meeting took place and now we have the video. It’s obvious why the powers that be in Washington went to such lengths to prevent it: It makes their case for war look foolish.
When asked about the causes of the war, Putin reiterated the points he has made for years: the threat posed by NATO expansion; the humanitarian crisis in the Donbas; the increasingly radical character of Ukrainian nationalism. He claims that he once personally confronted President Volodymyr Zelensky about the last point. “His father fought against the fascists Nazis during World War Two. I once talked to him about this. I said, Volodymyr, what are you doing? Why are you supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine today while your father fought against fascism? He was a frontline soldier. I will not tell you what he answered.”
When Tucker pressed Putin on the exact meaning of “denazification,” which was one of the three stated objectives of Russia’s military operation, Putin gave his view on Ukrainian nationalism. “After gaining independence, Ukraine began to search for, as some Western analysts say, its identity…and it came up with nothing better than to build this identity upon some false heroes who collaborated with Hitler,” Putin explained. “Okay, fine. If they consider themselves a separate people, they have the right to do so. But not on the basis of Nazism.”
According to Putin, “denazification” would have been accomplished by the draft peace deal that was negotiated in Istanbul in 2022. He says it included a provision stating that “Neo-Nazism would not be cultivated in Ukraine, including that it would be prohibited at the legislative level. Mr. Carlson, we agreed on that. This, it turns out, can be done during the negotiation process. And there’s nothing humiliating for Ukraine as a modern, civilized state. Is there any state allowed to promote Nazism? It is not, is it?”
Putin repeatedly proclaimed his willingness to negotiate an end to the war. The reason the U.S. has not allowed this, he implied, is that “they’re trying to intimidate their own population with an imaginary Russian threat. This is an obvious fact. And thinking people, not philistines, but thinking people, analysts, those who are engaged in real politics, just smart people, understand perfectly well that this is a fake. They’re trying to fuel the Russian threat.”
“Smart people understand perfectly well that this is a fake”: That is one point where Putin is definitely wrong. He clearly underestimates how many people in Washington are true believers in the narrative of Russia as the font of geopolitical evil.
Perhaps he underestimates how hysterical American policymakers can be because he is himself such a cold fish. Tucker at one point noted offhand that Putin seemed “bitter” about the West’s broken promises on NATO expansion, and Putin corrected him: “You said that I was bitter about the answer. No, it’s not bitterness. It’s just the statement of fact. We’re not bride and groom, bitterness, resentment, it’s not about those kind of matters in such circumstances.”
For him, maybe, but unfortunately cold rationality is not the only thing driving policy on this side of the Atlantic.
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