Putin’s interview: US journalist obliges Kremlin as ‘a useful idiot’
The Kremlin needed a propaganda ‘bomb’ in the run-up to the March presidential vote. It has been provided by US journalist Tucker Carlson.
The Russian media hyped up Putin’s interview with the former FOX news host and Trump supporter as an international validation of Putin’s leadership and policies.
The main takeaway: Putin remains irreversibly stuck in his dark delusion of denying the Ukrainians the right to exist as a nation independent from Russia’s control.
What is worse, he does not care and has no remorse whatsoever about the thousands of deaths, human suffering and massive destruction caused by his military aggression.
Putin’s body language, however, showed a battered, short-tempered man, begging to be understood.
He tried to look relaxed and sure of himself. But, instead, he was nervous and fidgety, and repeatedly cleared his throat and paused as if struggling not to lose his train of thought.
Putin maintained a friendly tone throughout the interview. But he made sure it was he who led and set the tone of the exchange.
Carlson opened with a question challenging Putin’s claim at the start of the invasion of Ukraine that it was done to pre-empt alleged US plans to launch a “surprise” attack on Russia.
Putin denied ever saying that and asked, as if forcing Carlson into line:
“Are we doing a talk show, or having a serious conversation?”
Carlson burst out laughing and exclaimed: “It’s a quote!”
Then, Putin made Carlson listen to a 30-minute history lecture (from the origins of Russian statehood in the 9th century to Lenin’s policies) to make the point that Ukraine was “an artificial state”.
Carlson struggled to follow Putin’s ‘dive’ into the past and show some interest.
Putin himself looked tortured in delivering his ‘lecture’– his account lacked passion and conviction, he grimaced and contracted his forehead as he tried to remember various historical dates.
The long, prepared and rehearsed ‘historical’ rant, which took a quarter of the entire interview, made Putin look weak. He was on the defensive to justify his war on Ukraine.
Putin used the remaining time to shift the blame for the war on Kyiv and Washington because the West had refused to accept Russia into “the brotherly family of civilised nations”, and had instead continued to expand NATO.
Putin, cynically, expressed “sadness” about “the endless mobilisation, hysteria and internal problems in Ukraine”, before saying:
“Sooner or later, we will reach [a peace] agreement.”
The journalist Carlson was probably looking for the scoop of his life.
His ‘expedition’ to Moscow also reflects the grotesque level of ideological delusion and political confrontation in the US as the political establishment gears up for a presidential vote.
US policy over Russia’s war on Ukraine is one of the main battle lines in the Democrats’ and Republicans’ struggle for the White House, with the latter, whose likely candidate is Trump, being more reserved about military aid to Kyiv.
The Kremlin took advantage of Carlson as ‘a useful idiot’ – a propaganda tool used in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, when the government invited and paraded in the media various Western ‘friends’ and ‘supporters’.
Putin also used the interview to make a friendly gesture towards the US, by hinting he was prepared to exchange the US journalist Evan Gershkovich, jailed by Russian authorities for alleged espionage, for Vadim Krasikov, a suspected Russian agent jailed in Germany for killing a Chechen separatist in 2019.
Apart from that and creating media headlines for one day, the Putin-Carlson self-serving (for both) ‘talk show’ is of no value at all.