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Might makes right: The underlying logic of Putin’s interview with Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson posted his interview with Russian president Putin on X on Friday. He has been popular with the Russians for years and many clips of him were shown on Russian TV.  He never gained enough knowledge about empires, war and intelligence matters to be considered competent and it shows in the interview. Putin tries to come off as a virtual professor of Russian history.

Tucker attended Trinity College, where, as he told the CJR in an interview, he spent his days mostly drunk.

https://www.cjr.org/the_profile/tucker-carlson.php

The CIA refused his application and he entered the field of journalism. He was with CNN for five years, did a short stint at PBS and then 3 years at MSNBC where his show was canceled due to low ratings. During ten years at the Daily Caller he reinvented himself as a conservative and finally joined Fox News. Now he wants to create his own platform.

Carlson must have bee aware he’s only given the opportunity because they didn’t expect him to ask hard questions, and properly follow up on Putin’s answers or non-answers. These kinds of interviews with Putin happened a lot in the past. Often times questions are pre-arranged or the Russians try to use espionage to get a copy of the questions beforehand.

And sometimes “journalists” simply take Russian money as was the case with Hubert Seipel, former German media star who got the first TV interview with Edward Snowden and was allowed to be with Putin up and close for a documentary when nobody else could. A secret contract was leaked to the press recently for 600.000€ for a single book project.

Tucker does not need Russian money, but instead status. We found out he didn’t actually believe in his own 2020 election coverage on FOX News but simply did it for the ratings and political reasons. And he is probably smart enough to know that the Capitol incident was indeed very serious and cannot be explained away with a leftwing conspiracy. When it comes to Ukraine he wants to hand over the Eastern part of the country to Russia and expects things to end there. During the interview he constantly seeks confirmation for this.

The setting of the interview is regal: The ornate Kremlin palace, built in the 1800s. Tucker, as expected, begins with a question which offers Putin the opportunity to rattle off his standard talking points which gave remained unchanged for many years. Though Tucker actually implies that Putin is contradicting himself:

Tucker: Mr. President, thank you. On February 22nd, 2022, you addressed your country in a nationwide address when the conflict in Ukraine started and you said that you were acting because you had come to the conclusion that the United States, through NATO, might initiate a “surprise attack on our country”. To Americans that sounds paranoid. Tell us why you believe the United States might strike Russia out of the blue. How did you conclude that?

Putin: It’s not that America the United States was going to launch a surprise strike on Russia. I didn’t say that. Are we having a talk show or a serious conversation?

Tucker: Well, here’s the quote. Thank you. It’s a formidable….serious…..

Tucker laughs very nervously when Putin insinuates Tucker was asking a nonsensical question based on a nonexistent or distorted quote. Right at the very beginning Tucker’s journalistic integrity is in question and he insists he has a copy of the quote in front of him, but quickly realizes he went too far. The Kremlin actually falsified it’s own transcript:

Putin continues: stand.

So if you don’t mind, I will take only 30 seconds or one minute to give you a short the reference to history, a little historical background.

Putin rambles on for about 30 minutes. He clearly considers himself to be a tsar. There are some indications he derived from the Rurikids himself, an aristocratic line which he mentions quite a bit. The surname Putin basically never existed, but there was a Putijatin clan. If an illegitimate child was born back then to an aristocrat, the child received a shortened version of the original surname. So Putijatin would become Putin. He is basically saing, for 30 minutes straight: I am a tsar. I want Ukraine and I don’t want anybody to interfere.

Russia simply needed the people and the industry in Ukraine. This industry exported intercontinental ballistic missiles to Russia, Helicopter engines and many more key items. Russia failed at making these things by itself, even when it bought smaller high-tech components from around the world, using proxies . Russia can’t be an empire in the future without fresh people and modern industry.

Putin: Let’s look where our relationship with Ukraine started. Where did Ukraine come from? The Russian state started gathering itself as a centralized statehood. It is considered to be the year of the establishment of the Russian state in 862. The townspeople of Novgorod invited a varangian Prince Rurik from Scandinavia to reign.

In 1862, Russia celebrated that 1000 anniversary of its statehood. And in Novgorod, there is a memorial dedicated to the 1000 anniversary of the country.

By 1862 Russia had just ended traditional serfdom. A serf is not a slave, but close. And by that time the rulers of Russia were from the German houses of Hessen and Schleswig Holstein. Is he going to hand over his reign to those guys? To basically the same families that constitute the throne of Britain? Probably not.

Putin: In 882 Rurik’s successor, Prince Oleg, who was actually playing the role of Regent, came to Kiev. Russia began to develop with two centers of power, Kiev and Novgorod. The next very significant date in the history of Russia was a 988. This was the baptism of Russia when Prince Vladimir, the great grandson of Rurik, baptized Russia and adopted orthodoxy or Eastern Christianity. From this time the centralized Russian state began to strengthen. Why? Because of the single territory. Integrated economic ties, one and the same language. Back in the Middle Ages, Prince Yaroslav, the wise, introduced the order of succession to a throne. There was nothing special about it. The same was happening then in Europe. But the fragmented Russian state became an easy prey to the empire created earlier by Genghis Khan. A unified Russian state began to take shape with its center in Moscow.

If it wasn’t anthing special to build an empire by force, why can’t Ukraine use force to remain a country? For Putin, it’s a conspiracy if anybody else does this. He espacially hates Poland:

The Poles introduced a language [in a certain territory], tried to entrench the idea that this population was not exactly Russians, that because they lived on the fringe, they were Ukrainians. Originally the word Ukrainian meant that the person was living on the outskirts of the state, along the fringes, or was engaged in a border patrol service. It didn’t mean any particular ethnic group.

So for Putin, ethnic coherence, force and a common church is enough legitimacy. But nobody else is supposed to build a state. Tucker seems a bit slow to realize Putin’s grand argument.

Tucker: I beg your pardon. Could you tell us what period, I’m losing track of where in history, we are in the Polish oppression of Ukraine. And I’m not sure why it’s relevant to what happened two years ago.

Vladimir Putin: Here’s the letters from Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the man who then controlled the power in this part of the Russian lands, that is now called Ukraine. He wrote to Warsaw demanding that their rights be upheld. And after being refused, he began to write letters to Moscow. Asking to take them under the strong hand of the Moscow Tsar. There are copies of these documents.

Still, it’s simply the old “might makes right” argument. And this argument is only legitimate, according to Putin, when it benefits the Russian empire. Any old piece of paper will serve as the perfect evidence. Any contradictory paper of course is worthless. The will of the Ukrainian people, their own culture and language, are of course also worthless. Russia even ignores it’s own old contracts when it suits them. They want Alaska back even though they sold it. By Putin’s logic, Americans are not Americans. They are subjects of the old British Empire and its kings. These kings, by the way, belong to the cluster of the houses of Hessen, Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark. The same houses from which the modern Russian tsars came from for hundreds of years. Putin may lay claim to the United States with some convoluted historical argument.

Adolf Hitler simply said: I want the Polish and Ukrainian territories because we really need it badly for or economy. And if you disagree you are part of the jewish world conspiracy and we will destroy you.

Putin: Under the rule of Catharina the Great Russia reclaimed all of its historical lands, including in the south and west, this all lasted until the [communist] Revolution. Before World War 1, Austrian General Staff relied on the ideas of Ukrainization, and started actively promoting the ideas of Ukraine and the Ukrainization. The motive was obvious. Just before World War 1, they wanted to weaken the potential enemy and secure themselves favorable conditions in the border area.

Again, if someone else uses baseline methods, it’s a mean conspiracy. If Russia does it, it has the blessing of Jesus. You get the sense that, had Napoleon been successful in his conquest of Russia, Putin would now give an interview in French and argue that, of course, this is all legitimate French territory.

Cambridge historian Christopher Clark explained in his 2012 book that tsarist Russia was the driving force behind WWI. Not Germany and Austria. It’s always been the same game in Europe: Form a stronger alliance and squash the weaker one. Germany was in the weaker alliance and did not want war. Russia scaled up its military to 1,5 million soldiers and had France and Britain as its partners. Everyone knew war was coming. The Russians would have gladly taken Germany. Without any silly historic argument about Rurikid princes and so on. When a silly historical argument doesn’t work the Russians can always claim they were threatened and had to act. It’s the imperial BS bingo game.

So if Russians attack Poland in the future, the Baltics, Scandinavia or Britain, they will concoct some stupid argument along those lines. What would Tucker Carlson then say?

Tucker: But may I ask, you’re making the case that Ukraine, certainly parts of Ukraine, eastern Ukraine is in effect Russia; it has been for hundreds of years. Why wouldn’t you just take it when you became president 24 years ago? You have nuclear weapons. It’s actually your land. Why did you wait so long?

First of all, the Russian military in 1999 was a joke. As was the economy. Russia waited so long to regain strength and to coordinate with communist China which was becoming a much stronger economy. Tucker is so naïve, he thinks that Russia would be content with Eastern Ukraine. They would not. They want all of Ukraine because they desperately need the people there and the industry which used to make so many goods used in the Russian military. It all seems so simple for Tucker: Make a deal, hand over Eastern Ukraine to Putin. The end.

Vladimir Putin: So before World War 2, Poland collaborated with Hitler.

So did the USSR. They made a deal with Hitler to divide up Poland. Hitler throught he could take Poland as long as he had a deal with the Russians. There are laws in Russia now where you can’t tell historical truths.

Putin: The Poles had not given the Danzig corridor to Germany, and went too far, pushing Hitler to start World War 2 by attacking them. Why was it Poland against whom the war started, on 1st September 1939? Poland turned out to be uncompromising, and Hitler had nothing to do but start implementing his plans with Poland.

Is Putin seriously blaming Poland for WWII?

Putin: This under the well known Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, a part of the territory including western Ukraine was to be given to Russia, thus Russia, which was then named the USSR regained its historical lands. After the victory in the Great Patriotic War, as we call World War 2, and all those territories were ultimately enshrined as belonging to Russia, to the USSR.  

So in this sense, we have every reason to affirm that Ukraine is an artificial state that was shaped at Stalin’s will.

Stalin was using the old “might makes right” principle. Ukraine was only a state on paper. It was territory of Stalin’s USSR empire. The Communists used a little dash of nationalism in various occupied countries in order to stabilize public opinion. But when someboby else does the same thing……..

Tucker: Do you believe Hungary has a right to take its land back from Ukraine, and that other nations have a right to go back to their 1654 borders?

By that logic the United States would have to give back almost all territory and reform as the British colonies.

Tucker: But the fact is that you didn’t make this case in public until two years ago, February. And in the case that you made, which I read today, you explain at great length that you felt a physical threat from the West in NATO, including potentially nuclear threat. And that’s what got you to move. Is that a fair characterization of what you said?

Putin dodges the question. Tucker apparently wants to hear the answer that NATO enlargement and the missile shield supposedly gave NATO the option of a nuclear fiest strike attack, followed by an invasion.

Vladimir Putin: I want you as an American citizen and your viewers to hear about this as. The former Russian leadership assumed that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and therefore there were no longer any ideological dividing lines. Russia even agreed voluntarily and proactively to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and believed that this would be understood by the so-called civilized West as an invitation for cooperation and association.

At last, a very old tired talking point we’ve heard so many times. The betrayal by the West.

Putin: There were smart people, including in Germany, Egon Bahr, a major politician of the Social Democratic Party, who insisted in his personal conversations with the Soviet leadership on the brink of the collapse of the Soviet Union, that they knew security systems should be established in Europe. NATO needs not to expand.

Bahr was nicknamed “Tricky Egon” and his Social Democratic Party was, according to the highest Soviet defectors like Jan Sejna, Moscow’s main tool in Western Germany. the expectation was to have Germany surrender after a threat of war.

Western Europe demilitarized after 1991, scaled back counterintelligence, and entered into massive trade with Russia. The Russians could move fortunes into the City of London. And of course Russia used intel ops to reclaim as much control as possible in Europe. Moscow’s dream scenario was still to take over all of Europe with the help of China. It’s ridiculous that Putin’s “might makes right” argument never seems to apply to others according to him.

Vladimir Putin: And let’s get into the fact that after 1991, when Russia expected that it would be welcomed into the brotherly family of civilized nations, nothing like this happened. You tricked us. The promise was that NATO would not expand eastward. But it happened five times.

Tucker: So you’re saying the CIA is trying to overthrow your government?

Putin dodges the question.

Vladimir Putin: The moment when the US missile defense system was created at the beginning. We persuaded for a long time not to do it in United States. Despite the fact that the United States officially said that it was being created against missile threats from Iran.

A baseline point, made by many influencers, also from those paid by Russia. Even the USSR developed a missile shield

Putin: Ultimately, in 2008, at the summit in Bucharest, they declared that the doors for Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO were open. A coup d’etat was committed. Although I shall not delve into details now as I find doing it inappropriate. The US told us, calm Yanukovych down and we will calm the opposition. Let the situation unfold. In the scenario of a political settlement. We said, all right, agreed, let’s do it this way. As the Americans requested, Yanukovych did use neither the armed forces nor the police. Yet the armed opposition committed a coup in Kiev. What is that supposed to mean? Who do you think you are? I wanted to ask the then US leadership.

So it’s okay if Russian intelligence tried to infiltrate all of Ukraine while the Ukranian military was virtually non-existent? Of course the will of the Ukrainian people does not even factor in for Putin at all. Any resistance is billed as an evil imperialist conspiracy.

Tucker: With the backing of whom?

Vladimir Putin: With the backing of CIA, of course, the organization you wanted to join back in the day, as I understand. We should thank God they didn’t let you in.

CIA did its job to complete the coup. I think one of the deputy secretaries of state said that they cost a large sum of money. Almost 5 billion.

Victoria Nuland did not admit to financing the Maidan uprising with 5 billion dollars. She was referring to sums tat went to Ukraine over a period of 20 years.

And the situation got to the point when the Ukrainian side started preparing for military action. It was they who started the war in 2014. Our goal is to stop this war. And we did not start this war in 2022. This is an attempt to stop it.

The Ukrainian military was incredibly weak at that point and even from 2014 until 2022. Russia had the option of accepting a Ukrainian state, increasing the Russian population and cleaning their own house of corruption which severely damaged Russia’s military industrial complex.

Tucker: Do you think you’ve stopped it now? I mean, have you achieved your aims?

Vladimir Putin: No. 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.

Tucker: Pardon my ignorance. What is what is de-nazification? What would that mean?

It means that a few deperate Ukrainians had once adopted fascism which is completely meaningless today.

Vladimir Putin: When World War 2 broke out, part of this extremely nationalist elite collaborated with Hitler, believing that he would bring them freedom. The German troops, even the SS troops made Hitler’s collaborators do the dirtiest work of exterminating the Polish and Jewish population. These people have been made into national heroes in Ukraine. Monuments to those people have been erected.  

Russia has a farly large Nonazi movement of its own and cooperates with Neonazis in foreign countries.

Tucker: Would you be satisfied with the territory that you have now?

Putin clearly dodges this question. Tucker’s view that a deal would solve all problems goes right out the window.

Tucker: Will there be talks? And why haven’t there been talks about resolving the conflict in Ukraine? Peace talks.

Vladimir Putin: 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.

What terms? A Ukrainian puppet government? New trade deals for Ukrainian products relevant to the russian military? A disbanding of the Ukrainian military? So Putin can try another invasion later?

Tucker: The threat I think you’re referring to is a Russian invasion of Poland. Latvia. Expansionist behavior. Can you imagine a scenario where you send Russian troops to Poland?

Vladimir Putin: Only in one case, if Poland attacks Russia. Why? Because we have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else. Why would we do that? We simply don’t have any interest. It’s just threat mongering.

What exactly constitutes a Polish “attack” for Putin? Would an expansion of the Polish military be enough for Putin to start a war? Supplying polish weapons to Ukraine? Putin clearly wants Poland out of NATO.

Tucker: Who blew up Nord Stream?

Vladimir Putin: You for sure.

Tucker: I was busy that day. I did not blow up Nord Stream. Thank you though.

Vladimir Putin: You personally may have an alibi, but the CIA has no such alibi.

Russia was responsible to protect its own infrastructure and they failed and it made them lok weak. Any small team could have placed bombs underneath the thin pipes at that very spot where the water is shallow. By now, a lot of infrastructure inside Russia has exploded or burnt to the ground, obviously due to small sabotage teams. Pro-Russian influencers like Seymour Hersh concocted this grand conspiracy involving US and European special forces to make the embarrassment for Russia appear much smaller-

Tucker: Did you have evidence that NATO or the CIA did it?

Vladimir Putin: You know, I won’t get into details, but people always say in such cases, look for someone who is interested. But in this case, we should not only look for someone who is interested, but also for someone who has capabilities, because there may be many people interested, but not all of them are capable of sinking to the bottom of the Baltic Sea and carrying out this explosion.

This is a straight dodge of the question.

Tucker: Okay, so if you had evidence and presumably given your security services or Intel services, you would that NATO, the US, CIA, the West did this, why wouldn’t you present it and win a propaganda victory?

Another dodge by Putin.

Vladimir Putin: We, together with my colleague and friend President XI Jinping, set their goal to reach $200 billion of mutual trade with China this year. We have exceeded this level. The BRICs countries are by and large developing very rapidly.

He creates the impression the US is using Ukraine to cling to some sort of dominance to counter the miraculous BRICS successes.

Is it normal from your point of view, sanctions, restrictions and possibility of payments in dollars being cut off from Swift services sanctions against their ships carrying oil? Sanctions against airplanes. Sanctions in everything, everywhere.  

Of course Putin calls for the end of sanctions.

Tucker: What are those power centers in the United States? do you think? Like who actually makes the decisions?

Vladimir Putin: I don’t know. America is a complex country.

Another dodge.

Tucker: You’ve described Russia itself a couple of times as orthodox. That’s central to your understanding of Russia. You’ve said you’re Orthodox. What does that mean for you? You are a Christian leader by your own description. So what effect does that have on you?

Vladimir Putin dodges this one especially.

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