The interview between Russian President Vladimir Putin and conservative US media personality Tucker Carlson is set to air on Thursday night, according to the former Fox News host.
An interview, recorded on Tuesday as per the Kremlin, will be streamed on Mr. Carlson’s website at 18:00 ET (23:00 GMT), and will also be shared on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The first image from the interview of President Putin by Tucker Carlson. The video shall be released at 6pm ET today. #TuckerCarlson #Putin #GeneralElectionN0W
This exclusive interview is a significant event, as it is the first time the Russian leader has agreed to speak with a Western media outlet since the start of the conflict in Ukraine. The timing is crucial, as the fighting in the country has reached a standstill.
According to Mr Carlson, no Western journalist has taken the time to interview Mr Putin, a claim that has been proven false. Many reporters from Western countries, including Steve Rosenberg, the Russia Editor for the BBC, have made numerous interview requests to the Kremlin. None of these have received any attention.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin Press Secretary, acknowledged that Mr Carlson’s statement was inaccurate during a press briefing on Wednesday. Speaking to the BBC in Moscow, Peskov stated, “Mr Carlson’s claim is incorrect, and it is not possible for him to have known that.” We are inundated with numerous interview requests for the president.
However, the interview is a significant achievement for Mr. Carlson, who has experienced a swift recovery since his high-profile departure from Fox News last year. It was rumored that he had fallen out of favor with owner Rupert Murdoch. It enables him to showcase his new media company, which debuted on X last year, as a significant contender in the media industry.
The interview is advantageous for Mr Putin. Mr. Carlson’s request has arrived at a favorable moment for the long-time Russian leader, whose media appearances are carefully orchestrated and regulated by the Kremlin.
In the US, efforts to pass legislation providing new military aid for Ukraine, which is seen as crucial for the ongoing war, have encountered obstacles in Congress. On Wednesday, the most recent bill that would have provided $60 billion in essential funding for Kyiv was making progress in the Senate but encountered strong resistance from Republicans in the House.
Without additional military support, Ukraine has faced significant challenges in its efforts to remove Russian forces from the country and launch new counter-offensives in the south and the eastern Donbas region.
Several prominent Republicans, including Senate leader Mitch McConnell, are determined to push for the passage of the new aid. However, they encounter growing opposition from conservative members within their own party, who are concerned about the escalating expenses of the conflict and are advocating for a reduction in US participation in international conflicts.
The Kremlin is likely aiming to influence Republican lawmakers by conducting an interview with a well-known conservative TV presenter. They hope to promote Moscow’s narratives, which are typically only echoed in Russian media, and make them more appealing to the lawmakers. Mr Carlson has maintained a longstanding and mutually advantageous association with Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who has voiced doubts about providing support to Ukraine.
Mr. Carlson’s platform provides a chance for the Kremlin to connect with a broader, potentially supportive, and predominantly conservative audience in the US. In previous instances, the ex-Fox News host has vehemently criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and aligned himself with Mr. Putin’s push for what he refers to as “traditional values,” a term that has encompassed discriminatory actions against the LGBT community in Russia.
The Kremlin is closely monitoring Europe, as it may be relied upon to provide financial support to Ukraine in the event of a withdrawal of American assistance.
There are significant shifts happening in the political landscape of the continent. Recent surveys indicate a growing sense of hesitation among the European public regarding their ongoing support for Ukraine. Several right-wing populist parties, some of which have shown pro-Russian tendencies, have achieved electoral victories in different nations. Others, including in influential countries such as France and Germany, are performing strongly in the polls.
However, there is also a domestic aspect to the proceedings. Russia is set to hold presidential elections in the coming month. It is widely expected that Mr. Putin will secure another victory, especially after his only anti-war opponent was disqualified on Thursday. However, Mr. Carlson’s interview provides an opportunity for the Russian leader to portray himself as a global statesman, appealing to his domestic audience.
It’s quite interesting to see how Russian state media has been giving Mr. Carlson a lot of attention lately, almost treating him like a major celebrity. The arrival of the media personality was closely followed by state TV, which provided extensive coverage of their activities, including visits to restaurants and a trip to see the Spartacus ballet at the Bolshoi Theater.
Moscow will be closely monitoring the increasing indications of internal political divisions in Ukraine.
President Zelensky announced on Thursday that he would be replacing his top military commander, Gen Valery Zaluzhny. This decision comes amidst speculation of a strained relationship between the two individuals. It seems that Mr. Putin would be quite pleased with this development. It appears that his main objective, aside from military conquest, is to oust the Zelensky government and install a pro-Russian one under his influence.
In an optimistic scenario, the leader of the Kremlin is counting on Europe and America to grow weary of the war, leading them to exert pressure on the Ukrainians to initiate negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict on terms that would benefit Moscow.