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Putin, in rare US interview, says Russia has no interest in wider war

Published 02/08/2024, 07:04 PM
Updated 02/09/2024, 08:46 AM
© Reuters. Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with U.S. television host Tucker Carlson in Moscow, Russia, February 6, 2024, in this still image taken from video released February 8, 2024. Courtesy of Tucker Carlson Network/Handout via REUTER

(This Feb. 8 story has been refiled to add the dropped word 'to' in paragraph 2)

By David Ljunggren, Ronald Popeski and David Brunnstrom

(Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview that aired on Thursday that Russia will fight for its interests "to the end" but has no interest in expanding its war in Ukraine to other countries such as Poland and Latvia.

In his first interview with an American journalist since before Russia's invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago, Putin said Western leaders had come to realize it was impossible to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia and were wondering what to do next.

"We are ready for this dialogue," he said.

Putin also said he believed it was possible to reach an agreement to free U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal, who has been detained in Russia for nearly a year and is awaiting trial on spying charges.

Putin made the comments in a more than two-hour interview with conservative talk-show host Tucker Carlson that was conducted in Moscow on Tuesday and aired on tuckercarlson.com.

Asked if he could imagine a scenario in which he would send Russian troops to Poland, a NATO member, Putin replied:

"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."

Putin spoke in Russian and his remarks were dubbed into English. He began with lengthy remarks about Russia's relations with Ukraine, Poland and other countries.

Putin devoted a substantial part of the interview to complaining that Ukraine had been on the verge of agreeing a deal to end hostilities at talks in Istanbul in April 2022, but backed away, he said, once Russian troops withdrew from near Kyiv.

"Well now let them think how to reverse the situation," he said. "We're not against it. It would be funny if it were not so sad that. This endless mobilization in Ukraine, the hysteria, the domestic problems, sooner or later it will result in an agreement."

The Russian leader said the U.S. had pressing domestic issues to worry about. "Wouldn't it be better to negotiate with Russia? Make an agreement. Already understanding the situation that is developing today, realizing that Russia will fight for its interests to the end," Putin said.

Washington, which has sent Ukraine more than $110 billion in aid since Russia invaded in February 2022, has made clear it has no interest in talking on Putin's terms

Putin was last formally interviewed by a U.S. media outlet in October 2021, when CNBC's Hadley Gamble spoke to him.

The Carlson interview came as U.S. lawmakers debate whether to provide more money for Ukraine's war effort. It also aired the same day as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy replaced the popular army chief with his ground forces commander.

A procedural vote in the U.S. Senate helped advance a bill that includes $61 billion in new funds for Ukraine, but it faces uncertainty in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives where dozens of members, particularly those closely allied with former President Donald Trump, have voted against Ukraine aid.

PROGRESS IN JOURNALIST'S CASE

Putin said Russian and American special services were discussing the Gershkovich case and had made some progress.

Putin suggested that in return, Moscow wanted Germany to free Vadim Krasikov, who was convicted of the 2019 murder of a Chechen dissident in Berlin, although he did not mention Krasikov by name.

"There have been many successful examples of these talks crowned with success," Putin said. "Probably this is going to be crowned with success as well but we have to come to an agreement."

Russia and the United States have agreed high-profile prisoner swaps in the past - most recently in December 2022 when Moscow traded Brittney Griner, a U.S. basketball star convicted of a drugs offence in Russia - for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout.

The Kremlin said Putin agreed to the Carlson interview because the approach of the former Fox News host differed from the "one-sided" reporting of the Ukraine conflict by many Western news outlets.

Carlson is considered to have close connections to Trump, who is expected to be the Republican Party candidate in the November U.S. presidential election.

© Reuters. Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with U.S. television host Tucker Carlson in Moscow, Russia February 6, 2024. Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Kremlin via REUTERS

Complaining about the billions of dollars in aid sent to Kyiv so far, Trump has called for de-escalation of the war in Ukraine, in which the Biden administration has strongly backed the Zelenskiy government.

For his part, Carlson has said much Western media coverage of the war is biased in Kyiv's favor.

Latest comments

He also said he had no interest in Ukraine just before he invaded their country and took crimea
Did Putin ever say what Russia’s “interests” were?
propaganda Brad🤡
No, fact, Putin tool. It is amazing how little magaloons comprehend the world. And, also, are apparently allergic to any self-examination or correction. But hey, emojis!
dmb 💩, I know you failed reading comprehension, but he asked a question and I answered it. What I said is 100% fact from the interview. 🤡
Saw Biden last evening at his News conference defending his classified docs issue. If he were my Dad, I'd  have to get him into a Memory Care Facility. "Memory Loss" or CRS Syndrome. (Can't Remember S##t) But .... He is qualified to be President, IAW you MAGA Phobe Draq Queens. Anyway, Love to All & God Bless America! Charles.
It is hard to know if some people are just rolling or if they have really suspended all judgement in order to suck swallow the milk of misinformation pouring from a strongman daddy's teat.
Democrats are the propaganda machine. I didn't hear a single statement from putin that was already not known information. if you prefer to keep your head in the sand or just believe the CNN propaganda, that's a you problem
thats right putin regrets nothing in his invasion of another country only that ukraine gets help defending themselves.
ken you obviously didn't watch the interview
Biden doesn't even answer questions, Putin answered off the cuff for 2 hrs
Just last night, Biden answered questions at a press conference and even, when about to leave, came back to answer more. So when we read your comments that are completely contrary to reality, we have to wonder: are you a Putin/Trump lackey intentionally spewing falsehoods or just a woefully ignorant joker with lazy opinions?
Putin said Everything that has already been known. Biden instigated NATO expansion, aided to block the peace treaty Russia offered just months after starting, offered to fund the war and Bidens sanctions has been the reason for the expansion of BRICS
Tucker is no longer a journalist and has only a youtube channel trying to make money off the MAGA nuts competing with Trump for their money.
Sure we believe everything you say.....
AT LEAST one true journalist in USA !
One month before attacking Ukraine, Putin said Russia would not start a war with Ukraine.
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