Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview that aired on Thursday (February 8) that Russia will fight for its interests ‘to the end’ but has no interest in expanding its war in Ukraine to other countries such as Poland and Latvia.
Putin spoke for two hours with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has been supportive of Russia’s actions and critical of US involvement in the conflict. The interview is Putin’s first with a Western media outlet since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
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Putin justified his invasion by saying that Ukraine was a historical part of Russia and threatened by NATO’s encroachment. He claimed that he would only attack other European countries only 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. “And a global war will bring all of humanity to the brink of devastation. It’s obvious.”
Putin also blamed the US for prolonging the war by arming Ukraine and accused Kyiv of genocide against ethnic Russians. He said he was ready to talk to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but only if the US 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 Zelenskyy but Moscow has not yet achieved its goals in Ukraine, including ‘de-Nazification’, a term he used to accuse Kyiv of oppressing and killing ethnic Russians.
The interview has been met with criticism from some Western leaders and media outlets, who accused Carlson of being a ‘useful idiot’ for Putin and spreading his propaganda. Carlson, who launched his own streaming service after leaving Fox News last year, claimed he was interviewing because English-language ‘media outlets are corrupt – they lie to their readers and viewers’.
The Carlson interview came as US lawmakers debated whether to provide more money for Ukraine’s war effort. It also aired the same day as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky replaced the popular army chief with his ground forces commander.
Putin Hints at Possible Prisoner Swap
Putin said he was hopeful of reaching a deal with the United States to free American journalist Evan Gershkovich, who has been jailed in Russia on drug charges. Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was arrested in Moscow after cannabis oil was found in his luggage. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Putin said Russian and American special services were discussing the Gershkovich case and had made some progress. He suggested that in return, Moscow wanted Germany to release Vadim Krasikov, a Russian agent who was convicted of assassinating a Chechen-Georgian dissident in Berlin in 2019.
“There have been many successful examples of these talks crowned with success,” Putin said. “Probably this is going to be crowned with success as well but we have to come to an agreement.”
Russia and the United States have conducted high-profile prisoner swaps in the past. In December 2022, Moscow traded Brittney Griner, a US basketball star who was convicted of smuggling and possession of cannabis in Russia, for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who was serving a 25-year sentence in the US for terrorism-related charges.
Advances in AI And Genetics are a Threat, Putin Said
Putin expressed his concerns about the rapid changes and challenges posed by artificial intelligence (AI) and genetics. Putin said the world is changing faster than ‘during the collapse of the Roman Empire’ and that mankind is facing many threats due to genetic research.
He said it is now possible to create a superhuman, a genetically engineered athlete, scientist, or military man. He also mentioned the reports that Elon Musk has implanted a chip in the human brain in the US.
“What do you think of that?” Carlson asked. “I think there’s no stopping Elon Musk. He will do as he sees fit,” Putin replied.
“Nevertheless, you need to find some common ground with him, search for ways to persuade him,” Putin explained. He said that humanity needed to think about what to do about the advances in AI and genetics and suggested the nuclear arms control treaties of the Cold War could be a guide.
“When there arises an understanding that the boundless and uncontrolled development of artificial intelligence or genetics or some other modern trends, cannot be stopped, that these researches will still exist just as it was impossible to hide gunpowder from humanity… when humanity feels a threat to itself, to humanity as a whole, then, it seems to me, there will come a period to negotiate at the interstate level on how we will regulate this,” – Putin added.