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Putin says Russia has ‘historic claim’ to parts of western Ukraine

Tucker Carlson sat down with Vladimir Putin for a two-hour interview where they discussed the war in Ukraine.

Screengrab of Vladimir Putin from the Tucker Carlson interview / (tuckercarlson.com)

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently alleged that Moscow has a “historic claim” to parts of Western Ukraine in his interview  with conservative journalist Tucker Carlson. 

The interview primarily focused on the war in Ukraine and Putin’s statement was in reply to the question as to why he attacked the country. Russia launched an offensive in Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

Putin, who was speaking through an interpreter, explained his claims regarding Russia’s right to Ukraine, by presenting archival documents to Carlson. Additionally, he highlighted the history of the old Russian state from the 8th to the 18th century for about 30 minutes, with frequent interruptions from Carlson who did not understand the relevance of the information to the question posed. 

“You are making the case that Ukraine, certain parts of Ukraine… is in effect Russia, has been for hundreds of years. Why wouldn’t you just take it when you became President 24 years ago? You had nuclear weapons, they do not. It is actually your land. Why wait so long?” Carlson asked, to which he did not receive a straightforward response from Putin.

“I know you have encyclopedic knowledge but why did you not make this claim 22 years ago as President that Ukraine wasn’t a real country?” Carlson asked. 

Carlson and Putin also spoke about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Formed in 1949 with the signing of the Washington Treaty, NATO is a security alliance of 30 countries from North America and Europe, whose fundamental goal is to safeguard the Allies’ freedom and security by political and military means.  

Putin told Carlson that former US President Bill Clinton welcomed the idea of Russia joining NATO but backtracked later. “At a meeting here in the Kremlin with the outgoing President Bill Clinton, right here in the next room, I said to him, I asked him: ‘Bill, do you think if Russia asked to join NATO, do you think it would happen?’ Suddenly he said, ‘You know, it’s interesting. I think so,’” Putin told Carlson.

“But in the evening, when we met for dinner, he said: ‘You know, I’ve talked to my team, no, it’s not possible now,’" the Russian president said. "You can ask him (Clinton). I think he will watch our interview, he’ll confirm it,” he added. 

Carlton sought to know Putin’s opinion on why Russia was rebuffed by the West, to which the latter responded, “Why we received such a negative answer you should ask your leaders.”

Carlson then asked the Russian president about Chuck Schumer’s comment that the U.S. has to continue to fund Ukraine or U.S. soldier citizens could wind up fighting there. 

“This is a cheap provocation,” Putin said. “Does the U.S. need this? What for? Don’t you have anything better to do? You have issues on the border, issues with migration, issues with the national debt. More than $33 trillion.” 

“You have nothing better to do, so you should fight in Ukraine? Wouldn’t it be better to negotiate with Russia?” Putin asked, adding that Russia will defend its interests until the end. 

Putin and Carlson also discussed Wall Street Journal (WSJ) journalist Evan Gershkovich’s release. The journalist has been detained in Russia since March 2023 on an espionage allegation. The allegation has been declined by Gershkovich, the WSJ, and the U.S. government. 

In response, Putin noted Russia and the US are engaged in an ongoing discussion regarding a prisoner swap. “But we have to come to an agreement,” he said. 
 

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