In his first interview with a Western journalist since launching the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin made contentious claims about Boris Johnson‘s role in preventing peace talks, during a two-hour conversation with controversial right-wing US host Tucker Carlson.
Putin accused the former UK Prime Minister of influencing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy against signing a peace deal during talks in Istanbul in 2022, asserting that Johnson believed it was preferable to engage in conflict with Russia. Johnson has vehemently denied these allegations as “total nonsense.”
The interview, largely unchallenged by Carlson, primarily focused on the ongoing conflict with Ukraine as it approaches its two-year mark. Ahead of its release, White House national security spokesman John Kirby cautioned against taking Putin’s statements at face value, emphasizing his history of misinformation.
Carlson faced criticism for granting Putin a platform for potential propaganda dissemination, following a pattern of offering favorable interviews to authoritarian figures. Despite claims by Carlson that Western journalists had not sought interviews with Putin, repeated requests for access have been declined by the Russian President.
Throughout the extensive conversation, Putin reiterated justifications for the invasion, citing the protection of Russian speakers in Ukraine and preventing the country from joining NATO as key motivations. These assertions were met with condemnation from UK officials, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak dismissing them as “clearly ridiculous.”
Putin also claimed that Zelenskyy had refused to engage in negotiations, placing the responsibility on Washington to cease weapon supplies to Ukraine and facilitate talks. He further denied allegations of harboring plans to attack NATO countries, asserting that the West would not achieve a strategic victory in Ukraine.
Regarding the imprisonment of Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges, Putin stated Moscow’s willingness to negotiate his release, contingent upon ongoing discussions between intelligence services. Gershkovich denies the allegations, with Putin suggesting a potential resolution to the issue.