Get a cup of coffee. The Putin interview is over 2 hours, although 1.25X is a fine listening speed.
I just started it myself and will add comments. There is a transcript but you have to subscribe to Tucker’s venture to access it, so it’s not proper to hoist it, but I expect to post some snippets.
As Tucker points out at the top, Putin starts with a long history of the Russia and the Ukraine region. If you’ve read his speeches, even ones before the Maidan coup, you’ll see he likes this framing. Like Tucker, I find this an odd choice, particularly the length of the recap.
Update: As I am partway through this talk, stylistically it seems very similar to Putin’s domestic press briefings, where he likes reciting details for the sake of completeness but also to demonstrate his command of the subject matter. But “press briefing” is not the same as a conventional Western one-on-one interview, even though Putin takes and even seems to enjoy tough questions from Russian and foreign reporters. Note this talk differs markedly from the Oliver Stone 4 hour interview series, broadcast in 2017. Even though many of Putin’s responses then were lengthy, the talk felt like more of an exchange. Did Putin have more confidence in Stone’s understanding of the background than he did with Tucker?
Further update: This talk was flabby and Tucker blew this opportunity. Given that Putin often does 3-4 hour press sessions, and Tucker said there was no time limit, Tucker ran out of gas due to his difficulty in engaging effectively with Putin, as contrasted with the Stone interviews. Putin shut it down and Tucker didn’t offer any reason to continue: “Shall we end here, or is there anything else?”
I don’t think Tucker was knowledgeable enough nor did he compensate with preparation. He appeared ignorant of many key issues germane to Putin’s decisions to invade, such at the US refusing to give written responses to Russian proposals in 2021, Zelensky asking for nukes in the February 2022 Munich Security Conference, and Ukraine increasing shelling of Donbass then as it was also massing troops. He might have been able to banter with Putin during his discussion of NATO expansion, for instance, but Tucker exhibited almost no independent point of view or meaningful preparation.
Further thoughts: Tucker’s translator was nowhere near as good as the one in the Oliver Stone series. The translations often had stilted sentence structures and awkward pacing, which may accurately replicate Russian grammar but is not English-friendly. The translator in the Stone interviews was a young man who sat next to Putin….as in provided by the Russian government, and Stone did the voice-over much later (Stone noted that one way the Western press set out to diminish Putin was via ugly-voiced translators).
While there was some interesting tidbits, like a meeting Putin had with Condi Rice, Bill Gates and Bill Burns back in the day, the only thing new to me was a Putin claim about the failed Istanbul negotiations. Recall Russia had troops near Kiev, which most experts saw as a pinning operation. They were clearly too few to take Kiev, but sufficient to force Ukraine to keep meaningful forces there. Russia pulled them out in early April, depicting it as a good will gesture based on negotiation progress. Military experts claimed the Russian forces were being harassed enough that they needed to be reinforced and/or rotated, and the “good will” was an excuse.
We haven’t achieved our aims yet because one of them is de-nazification. This means the prohibition of all kinds of neo-Nazi movements. This is one of the problems that we discussed during the negotiation process, which ended in Istanbul early this year. And it was not our initiative because we were told by the Europeans in particular that it was necessary to create conditions for the final signing of the documents. My counterparts in France, in Germany said, How can you imagine them signing a treaty with a gun to their heads? The troops should be pulled back from Kiev. I said, all right. We withdrew the troops from Kiev. As soon as we pulled back our troops from Kiev, our Ukrainian negotiators immediately threw all our agreements reached in Istanbul into the bin and got prepared for a long standing armed confrontation with the help of the United States and its satellites in Europe. That is how the situation has developed, and that is how it looks now.
If this is the operative truth (there are many levels of truth, something can be true but not the most germane truth), then Russia was snookered. Or has Putin elevated the importance of the European prodding in light of what he learned later about the bad faith dealings with the Minsk Accords?
Ep. 73 The Vladimir Putin Interview pic.twitter.com/67YuZRkfLL
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) February 8, 2024
Note that Putin showing his stamina and famed memory comes the same day as the Special Counsel on the Biden “classified documents next to his Corvette” scandal concluded with the Special Counsel deciding not to prosecute despite finding Biden did willfully mishandle classified material, basically because Biden is too doddering to hold up to cross examination. From NBC:
Special counsel Robert Hur’s portrait of a man who couldn’t remember when he served as Barack Obama’s vice president, or the year when his beloved son Beau died, dealt a blow to Biden’s argument that he is still sharp and fit enough to serve another four-year term.
In deciding not to charge Biden with any crimes, the special counsel wrote that in a potential trial, “Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview with him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”….
“This is beyond devastating,” said another Democratic operative, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk candidly about Biden’s shortcomings. “It confirms every doubt and concern that voters have. If the only reason they didn’t charge him is because he’s too old to be charged, then how can he be president of the United States?”