Putin tells Tucker Carlson deal can be reached to free jailed US reporter Evan Gershkovich

  • By Will Vernon and Mike Wendling
  • BBC News

Video caption,

Watch: The second Carlson asks Putin if he would launch detained US reporter

President Vladimir Putin has mentioned he believes a deal can be reached to free Evan Gershkovich, a US reporter detained final yr in Russia.

Speaking with US host Tucker Carlson, Mr Putin mentioned talks have been ongoing with the US in regards to the journalist, who’s being held on espionage expenses.

In the interview, Mr Putin held forth on Ukraine, US presidents and the CIA.

It’s the primary time the Russian chief has sat down with a Western journalist since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

The unique has thrust Mr Carlson and his fledgling media firm again into the highlight following the firebrand conservative presenter’s abrupt departure from Fox News final yr.

Mr Putin mentioned he believed a deal might be struck to launch Mr Gershkovich, 32, “if our partners take reciprocal steps”.

“The special services are in contact with one another. They are talking… I believe an agreement can be reached.”

Mr Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested within the metropolis of Yekaterinburg, about 1,600km (1,000 miles) east of Moscow, on 29 March final yr.

In January, Russia once more prolonged his pre-trial detention till the tip of March. He faces up to 20 years in jail if discovered responsible.

Mr Carlson requested Mr Putin if he would be prepared to launch the reporter instantly and mentioned: “We’ll bring him back to the United States.”

But the Russian president insisted that Mr Gershkovich, who has not but been tried, had acquired categorized info, and hinted as to who Russia would settle for in a prisoner trade.

Mr Putin talked about “a person, due to patriotic sentiments, [who] eliminated a bandit in one of the European capitals… during the events in the Caucasus”.

It was virtually actually a reference to Vadim Krasikov, an FSB murderer at present in jail in Germany after capturing lifeless a Georgian navy officer, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, in a Berlin park in 2019.

The interview, greater than two hours lengthy, was filmed in Moscow on Tuesday.

It started with a query about Mr Putin’s cause for ordering the invasion of Ukraine two years in the past.

“Tell us why you believe the United States might strike Russia out of the blue,” Mr Carlson requested. “How did you conclude that?”

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

Mr Putin then spoke at size – greater than half an hour – in regards to the historical past of Eastern Europe, starting with the institution of the Russian state within the ninth Century.

Mr Putin repeated his numerous justifications for the invasion, together with well-worn falsehoods in regards to the historical past of Ukraine, his historic grievances in regards to the break-up of the Soviet Union and Nato enlargement, and his declare that Ukraine is riddled with neo-Nazis.

He additionally talked at size in regards to the begin of the invasion, repeating false claims that Russia had not attacked Ukraine. Moscow, in accordance to Mr Putin, was simply responding to threats to its nationwide safety.

Mr Carlson didn’t ask about alleged struggle crimes dedicated by Russian troopers in Bucha or elsewhere, the pressured removing of Ukrainian kids to Russia which resulted in an International Criminal Court arrest warrant being issued for Mr Putin, the deaths of political rivals or the jailing of opposition chief Alexei Navalny.

Mr Putin, for his half, insisted that Russia had little interest in invading Poland, Latvia or different Nato nations, calling such a situation “absolutely out of the question”.

The Russian chief additionally mentioned his relationship with American presidents, repeating a narrative he has beforehand talked about about Bill Clinton suggesting that Russia might be a part of Nato, solely to withdraw the choice shortly afterwards.

He mentioned he had loved a “very good relationship” with George W Bush.

“He was no worse than any other American or Russian or European politician,” Mr Putin mentioned. “I assure you he understood what he was doing as well as others. I had such a personal relationship with Trump as well.”

Mr Putin mentioned he didn’t recall the final time he had spoken to President Joe Biden.

Before the interview, Mr Carlson mentioned “not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview” Mr Putin since 2022.

Countless reporters from Western nations, together with the BBC’s Russia Editor Steve Rosenberg, have despatched the Kremlin repeated interview requests. All of the BBC’s requests have been ignored.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged this, telling the BBC: “Mr Carlson is not correct, and he couldn’t have known that. We receive a lot of requests for interviews with the president.”

Russian state media spent a number of days masking Mr Carlson’s go to, broadcasting footage of his numerous journeys to eating places and a go to to see the Spartacus ballet on the Bolshoi Theatre.

Mr Carlson was the highest-rated primetime host on Fox News till he was taken off air in April 2023, for causes the channel has by no means made clear.

He began his personal media firm and located an outlet on X, previously Twitter.

Content on the Tucker Carlson Network consists largely of pleasant interviews with right-wing politicians – together with a chat with Donald Trump timed to coincide with a Republican presidential debate – and different figures akin to Andrew Tate and Russell Brand.

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