Putin tells Tucker Carlson Russia can’t be defeated in Ukraine

Russian leader says deal to free Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich possible if ‘reciprocal steps’ taken.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with US television host Tucker Carlson in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended his war in Ukraine in a two-hour interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson [File: Grigorov/Sputnik via AP]

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that defeating Russia in Ukraine is “impossible by definition”, but insisted he does not seek to expand the war to neighbouring countries such as Poland and Latvia.

In a high-profile interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Putin repeated his claim that invading Ukraine was necessary to stop the country from threatening Russia by joining NATO, denied that he had territorial ambitions across Europe, and insisted he would only send troops into neighbouring countries if attacked first.

“It is absolutely out of the question. You just don’t have to be any kind of analyst, it goes against common sense to get involved in some kind of a global war,” Putin said in the interview posted on social media and Carlson’s personal website on Thursday.

“And a global war will bring all of humanity to the brink of devastation. It’s obvious.”

During a two-hour interview that saw Putin talk at length about the history of Eastern Europe and Russia, the Russian leader said that his government was in contact with the United States and that a peaceful resolution to the war would only be possible if Washington stopped supplying weapons to Ukraine.

“I will tell you what we are saying on this matter and what we are conveying to the US leadership,” Putin said. “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.”

Putin said he has “never refused” to negotiate peace with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy but Moscow has not yet achieved its goals in Ukraine, including “de-Nazification”, referring to his claim that Kyiv is committing genocide against ethnic Russians.

Asked by Carlson whether he would be willing to release imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich as a “sign of your decency”, the Russian leader said a deal is possible and there is “no taboo” on resolving the issue.

“We have done so many gestures of goodwill out of decency that I think we have run out of them. No, 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 steps,” Putin said.

Gershkovich has been detained in Russia since March 2023 on spying charges that Washington has described as “baseless”.

The Kremlin said Putin agreed to sit down with Carlson because he presented a less one-sided view of the war in Ukraine.

Carlson has repeatedly questioned the rationale for US support for Kyiv, and in a video posted on social media this week, he criticised US media outlets for their “fawning” coverage of Zelenskyy.

After his interview with Putin aired, Carlson said in a video posted on his website that anyone who believed Putin would give up Crimea for peace is a “lunatic” and “they want a weak leadership in Russia”.

Before the interview, Carlson attracted criticism for travelling to Moscow to interview the Russian leader, with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accusing the former TV host of being a “useful idiot”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies