Political commentator Tucker Carlson pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin during an interview this week to release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich from prison so he can return to the U.S.
Carlson made the ask at the end of an interview that lasted longer than two hours and was posted to social media Thursday evening. Carlson did not ask about other Americans who were locked up inside Russia, including Paul Whelan and Marc Fogel.
Nearly the entire first half of the interview was Putin sharing his version of Russia’s history and offering his justifications for why he invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
During various moments in the interview, Putin appeared to take some subtle shots at Carlson, in an apparent attempt to throw him off balance, including at the very beginning when he asked Carlson if they were “having a talk show or a serious conversation.”
Another instance where Putin threw shade at Carlson happened when Putin claimed that the U.S. orchestrated a “coup d’etat” in Ukraine that resulted in former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich being forced out of office.
When Carlson asked Putin who backed what he claimed was a coup, Putin responded: “With the backing of CIA, of course, the organization you wanted to join back in the day, as I understand. We should thank God they didn’t let you in. Although it is a serious organization, I understand.”
Carlson repeatedly pressed Putin about what it would take for him to end the war in Ukraine so the region could have peace, to which Putin said that the U.S. must stop supplying Ukraine with the weapons that it needs to fight.
“If you really want to stop fighting, you need to stop supplying weapons,” Putin said. “It will be over within a few weeks.”
Putin also highlighted a law that Ukraine’s president signed that said the country will not negotiate with Putin, declaring it “impossible” to negotiate with the dictator.
The Russian leader would not disclose what President Joe Biden said to him the last time they talked, saying that if Carlson wanted to know that, he should go ask Biden himself.
Putin said that people should not be concerned about the war becoming a global nuclear conflict and that those fears were coming from people “trying to fuel the Russian threat.”
Putin claimed that he had no desire to invade countries like “Poland, Latvia, or anywhere else” unless they were to attack Russia.
“Why would we do that? We simply don’t have any interest,” he claimed. “It’s just threat mongering.”
Carlson pushed back on Putin after he accused the U.S. of blowing up the Nord Stream pipeline, asking him why he would not present the evidence that he claims he had that proved it was the United States. Carlson also pressed Putin over why Germany was being silent about the matter considering that it impacted their economy.
Putin took opportunities during the interview to undermine the U.S. dollar, the U.S. economy, and the West while promoting communist China and Russia’s alliances.
Various important topics were not discussed, including the mysterious deaths of numerous powerful Russians over the last couple of years to Russian cyberattacks on U.S. infrastructure to former Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin organizing a revolt against the Russian government last year.
At the end of the interview, Carlson lobbied Putin to release Gershkovich, 32, “as a sign of decency” so that Carlson could bring him back to the U.S.
“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 steps. When I talk about the partners, I first of all refer to special services. Special services are in contact with one another. They are talking about the matter in question. There is no taboo to settle this issue. We are willing to solve it, but there are certain terms being discussed via special services channels. I believe an agreement can be reached.”
Putin accused Gershkovich of obtaining “secret information” through a “conspiratorial manner,” which he said amounted to spying.
“And that is exactly what he was doing,” Putin claimed. “He was receiving classified, confidential information, and he did it covertly. Maybe he did that out of carelessness or his own initiative. Considering the sheer fact that this [qualifies as] espionage. The fact has been proven as he was caught red handed when he was receiving this information. If it had been some farfetched excuse, some fabrication, something not proven, it would have been a different story then. But he was caught red handed when he was secretly getting confidential information.”
Putin said that he thought the reporter was working for U.S. intelligence and that he was “getting classified information,” presumably from the Russian government, “in secret [which] is called espionage.”
When Putin tried to deflect by bringing up a completely different example of someone being imprisoned in a foreign country, Carlson pushed back, noting that the example he gave was “completely different” and that Gershkovich was just a reporter.
“He’s not just a journalist. I reiterate,” Putin said. “He’s a journalist who is secretly getting confidential information.”
Tucker asks Putin about jailed WSJ journalist pic.twitter.com/SjPMutFJBP
— Tucker Carlson Network (@TCNetwork) February 8, 2024