Tucker Carlson says his interview with Putin will air Thursday

Tucker Carlson said Wednesday night that his long-awaited interview with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would air Thursday night, even as a bill to send tens of billions of dollars to Ukraine remains hanging in The congress.

Carlson, the former Fox News host, made the announcement in an Instagram post, which said the interview would air on tuckercarlson.com at 6 pm Eastern time. It would be Putin’s first formal interview with a Western media figure since the start of his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, despite multiple requests from a variety of media outlets.

The interview took place on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov said.

Carlson has spent several days in Moscow, according to Russian state media, which has presented a detailed account of his visit, raising expectations about a possible interview. She confirmed Tuesday night that there would be one.

“We are here to interview the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin,” Carlson said in a video apparently taken from a high-rise building in central Moscow and posted on X, the social media platform. “We will do it soon.”

Putin’s government has sharply reduced the ability of Western journalists to cover Russia and has jailed a Wall Street Journal correspondent, Evan Gershkovich, for more than 10 months on spying charges that he, his employer and the U.S. government They vehemently deny. The Kremlin has referred to Western countries as “stunned” by anti-Russian propaganda.

The interview comes at a critical time for the war in Ukraine, with US aid to kyiv stalled in Congress. On Wednesday, the Senate adjourned without moving forward on an aid package for Ukraine and Israel, after Republicans blocked a compromise that would have combined the aid with strict border security measures.

In speaking with Carlson, Putin is most likely looking to take advantage of a unique opportunity: the chance to reach a potentially sympathetic audience in the United States.

Carlson, like Republican presidential front-runner Donald J. Trump, is skeptical of greater U.S. support for Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion, and has welcomed Putin’s efforts to position himself as a global standard-bearer. of “traditional values”, such as opposing LGBT rights.

Putin’s calculation, in large part, seems linked to the war in Ukraine. The interview could inflame political divisions over Ukraine within the United States, especially if Putin signals that he is open to a negotiated end to the war.

In promoting the interview, Carlson falsely claimed that he was the only one among Western media figures attempting to interview Putin. Several Western news organizations, including television networks and The New York Times, have requested interviews with him.

“Does Tucker really think that we journalists haven’t tried to interview President Putin every day since his full-scale invasion of Ukraine?” Christiane Amanpour, CNN and PBS journalist, wrote in Xadding that Mr. Carlson’s claim was “absurd.”

Peskov addressed that point Wednesday, saying: “Mr. Carlson isn’t right, but he couldn’t have known. “We received many requests for interviews with the president.”

Peskov said that Western newspapers and television networks “cannot boast of even trying to appear impartial in terms of covering what is happening” and that “there is no desire to communicate with those media.” Carlson, he said, takes a position that “contrasts the position of the traditional Anglo-Saxon media.”

An interview in the Kremlin could be mutually beneficial for Carlson and Putin. Carlson lost the most prominent platform in conservative media when he was booted from Fox’s lineup last year, while Putin lost the most prominent promoter of his anti-Ukraine talking points in the United States.

Carlson’s arrival in Moscow and speculation that he was there to interview Putin sparked a mix of condemnation and praise from prominent X users.

“He is a traitor,” former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., wrote in a message, referring to Carlson. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Trump-aligned Republican congresswoman from Georgia, praised the news: saying: “Democrats and their propagandists are nervous about the prospect of Tucker Carlson interviewing Putin.”

Carlson said in his Tuesday video that the interview would be published on X and that the social network’s owner, billionaire Elon Musk, had promised “not to delete or block this interview.”

However, that may not be the case for the Russian government, which has restricted access to the platform, formerly known as Twitter, since March 2022, alleging that it harbored false information about the war in Ukraine.

While Carlson continues to provide the Kremlin media with pro-Putin commentary for consumption in Russia, he has become a diminished figure in the United States since leaving Fox News, where he averaged an audience of more than 3 million a night.

Western and Russian officials close to the Kremlin have said in recent months that, with Russia regaining the initiative on the battlefield and greater U.S. aid to Ukraine stalled in Congress, Putin appears to see an opening for negotiations that could benefit him. But many Ukraine supporters say seeking a deal with Putin now would amount to capitulation, because it would almost certainly require Ukraine to give up the roughly one-fifth of Ukraine that Russia now controls.

In gripping coverage of Carlson’s movements around Moscow, pro-Kremlin Russian media appeared to be working to generate rumors about a possible interview with Putin. On television and online, Russian state media has treated Carlson like a visiting celebrity, offering a series of photos and videos of her various stops: arriving at the airport, dining at a restaurant and attending the “Spartacus” ballet at the Bolshoi. Theater.