Vladimir Putin took aim at President Biden, Bill Clinton and the CIA in his hotly anticipated interview with Tucker Carlson, where he praised George Bush and gushed over ‘very smart’ Elon Musk.
The two-hour interview was posted on Carlson’s website, the Tucker Carlson Network, shortly before 6pm on Thursday.
Speaking through a translator, Putin started off by responding to a question about the Ukraine war with: ‘Are we having a talk show or a serious interview?’
He then offered Carlson a ‘historical background’ of the conflict in the region, before defending his military’s action.
From then on, he made a range of bombshell claims, including:
- Bill Clinton offered Russia a place in NATO, but was overruled by his staff
- Russia has superior ‘supersonic missiles’ to every other nation
- Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is a ‘spy’
- The CIA blew up the Nord Stream Pipeline
Tucker Carlson’s hotly anticipated interview with Vladimir Putin saw a number of bombshell claims
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen in his Tucker Carlson interview on Thursday night
Clinton offered Russia a place in NATO
Putin claimed that Bill Clinton’s team refused to consider allowing Russia a place in NATO
Putin claimed Clinton was initially receptive to the idea before changing his mind several hours later
Putin claimed that he sought to restore Russian relations with the US when he became president in 2000, even asking then-President Bill Clinton for a place in NATO.
However, he alleged his request was rebuffed by Clinton’s team.
‘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?” Putin said.
‘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.
‘You can ask him. I think he will watch our interview, he’ll confirm it. I wouldn’t have said anything like that if it hadn’t happened. Okay, well, it’s impossible now. ‘
He suggested that Russia would have been willing to join the military alliance had it not been knocked back.
‘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. Well, no means no, okay, fine,’ Putin added.
However he refuted the suggestion the rejection stoked tensions.
‘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. We just realized we weren’t welcome there, that’s all,’ he said.
Putin boasted that Russia ‘created hypersonic systems’ which are now ‘ahead of everyone’
Putin used the occasion to tout his nation’s military prowess, saying the Russian forces ‘created hypersonic systems with intercontinental range, and we continue to develop them.’
‘We are now ahead of everyone, the United States and the other countries in terms of the development of hypersonic strike systems. And we are improving them every day,’ he said.
Putin said the missiles were developed in response to the US establishing its own systems against Iran and after his suggestions that the US, Europe and Russian
‘I said, “Look, but then we will be forced to take counter measures. We will create such strike systems that will certainly overcome missile defense systems. The answer was, “We are not doing this against you, and you do what you want. Assuming that it is not against us, not against the United States. I said, “Okay”. Very well. That’s the way it went.’
Relationship with presidents
The Russian leader spoke fondly of former president George W. Bush and said he had a ‘very good relationship with him
Putin described his relationship with Donald Trump as ‘personal’, but was less enthusiastic about his relations with Biden
The Russian leader recounted his past relationships with several US Presidents, mostly gushing over Republicans George W. Bush and Donald Trump.
‘It is not about the personality of a particular person. I had a very good relationship with say Bush,’ he said.
‘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.
‘I think he made a lot of mistakes with regard to Russia, too. I told you about 2008 and the decision in Bucharest to open the NATO’s doors to for Ukraine and so on.
‘That happened during his presidency. He actually exercised pressure on the Europeans.
‘But in general, on a personal human level, I had a very good relationship with him. He was no worse than any other American or Russian or European politician. I assure you he understood what he was doing as well as others.’
He continued that he had a similarly warm relationship with former President Donald Trump, saying: ‘It is not about the personality of the leader. It is about the elites’ mindset, leader deal.
‘If the idea of domination at any cost, based also on forceful actions dominates the American society, nothing will change. It will only get worse.’
The Russian leader appeared to mock Biden’s financial support for war-torn Ukraine
Carlson introduced the interview by appearing in a snowy Red Square
Tucker Carlson with Vladimir Putin in their hotly anticipated interview
‘I had such a personal relationship with Trump,’ he said.
The interview comes at a crucial time in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the Biden administration coming under mounting scrutiny for its continued support of Ukrainian President Zelensky’s expensive defense against Putin’s army.
Putin was less enthusiastic about Biden, appearing to mock his continued financial support for the war-torn nation.
‘If you really want to stop fighting, you need to stop supplying weapons. It will be over within a few weeks. That’s it. And then we can agree on some terms before you do that, stop,’ he said.
When Carlson asked what kind of response he receives from the White House, Putin said: ‘You were going to deliver such and such weapons to Ukraine. Oh, I’m afraid, I’m afraid. Please don’t. What is there to talk about?’
Cause of Ukraine conflict
Carlson, 54, announced that he would be interviewing the Russian leader earlier this week, with the interview set to go live tonight on X at 6pm
When asked what the decisive moment was that made up his mind to launch his attack, Putin responded, ‘initially, it was the coup in Ukraine’ – referencing the removal of Zelensky’s predecessor Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
‘And what triggered the current events? Firstly, the current Ukrainian leadership would not implement the Minsk Agreements,’ Putin continued. The Minsk Agreements were a series of treaties that sought to end the Donbas War between Ukraine and Russian separatist groups, signed in 2014.
He accused former leaders of Germany and France of reneging on their commitments to the agreements.
‘They never intended to implement them, they simply led us by the nose,’ he said.
He also bristled at the notion a change of president would change the outcome of the war.
‘You just asked me if another leader comes and changes something? It is not about the leader,’ he said.
Putin sensationally claimed that a peace deal over the Ukraine war was once almost agreed to, blaming the ‘Western side’ for wanting to keep the war going for as long as possible.
‘We’re willing to negotiate,’ he said.
‘It is the western side, and Ukraine is obviously a satellite state of the US. It is evident. I do not want you to take it as if I am looking for a strong word or an insult. But we both understand what is happening.’
Putin claimed Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershowitz is a ‘spy’ as he justified his continued imprisonment
Carlson’s interview with the Russian leader sparked backlash among Western media for his treatment of the free press in his nation, including the ongoing imprisonment of Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershowitz.
Gershowitz, 32, was detained in March 2023 while on a reporting trip to the city of Yekaterinburg, about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) east of Moscow.
He has been held in jail since on espionage charges which can be punished by up to 20 years in prison.
While the US says the reporter is wrongly detained, Putin claimed Gershowitz is a spy, claims he reiterated in Carlson’s interview.
‘You know, you can give a different interpretations to what constitutes a spy. But there are certain things provided by law. If a person gets secret information and does that in conspiratorial manner, then this is qualified as espionage,’ he said.
‘He was receiving classified, confidential information, and he did it covertly. Maybe he did that out of carelessness or his own initiative.’
He refuted Carlson’s suggestion Gershowitz is ‘just a kid’ and stated he was ‘caught red handed’.
When asked if he would consider releasing the journalist, Putin did not definitively rule it out but made it seem unlikely unless the US were to take ‘reciprocal’ steps.
‘We have done so many gestures of goodwill out of decency that I think we have run out of them,’ Putin said.
‘We have never seen anyone reciprocate to us in a similar manner. However, in theory, we can say that we do not rule out that we can do that if our partners take reciprocal step.’
US urges caution around interview
During the White House daily briefing on Thursday, Communications Coordinator John Kirby told reporters that Americans shouldn’t believe anything Putin says
Today, before the interview dropped, White House Communications Coordinator John Kirby told Americans not to believe ‘anything’ in the interview.
‘Anybody that watches that interview you need to make sure to remember that you are listening to Vladimir Putin,’ he said.
‘You shouldn’t take at face value anything he has to say.’
Kirby added: ‘The American people know well who is at fault here, and I think they know that there was no ground whatsoever for the invasion two years ago.
‘He invaded a neighboring country without provocation, Ukraine wasn’t a threat to anybody.
‘The American people understand that, the American people understand what Ukraine is fighting for.
‘All they’re asking for is our help, they’re not asking for boots on the ground. I don’t think the American people are going to be swayed by one interview.’
While Democrats have bristled at the thought of Carlson giving Putin a platform – including Hillary Clinton branding Carlson a ‘useful idiot’ – others are embracing it.
Robert Kennedy Jr. praised Carlson’s efforts earlier this week, saying he had every right to speak to the world leader and inform the public of stance.
The Kremlin gleefully promoted the interview earlier this week.
The controversial interview has drawn criticism from the White House and the EU, both of whom say Putin cannot be trusted and should not be listened to.
In promotional videos, Carlson said he conducted the interview out of duty to the American people who deserve to know more about the conflict in Ukraine.