In a rare interview with US host Tucker Carlson, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed hope for a possible agreement to release Evan Gershkovich, an American journalist detained in Russia on espionage charges.
During the interview, which marks Putin’s first sit-down with a Western journalist since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, he discussed various topics including Ukraine, US presidents, and the CIA.
Putin indicated ongoing discussions with the US regarding Gershkovich’s detention, suggesting that progress could be made if reciprocal actions are taken by both parties. Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested in Yekaterinburg in March last year and is currently facing espionage charges, with his pre-trial detention recently extended until the end of March.
When asked by Carlson if Gershkovich could be released immediately, Putin highlighted allegations that the journalist had accessed classified information. He hinted at the possibility of a prisoner exchange, mentioning an individual involved in an incident in Europe related to events in the Caucasus, likely referring to Vadim Krasikov, an FSB operative imprisoned in Germany.
The extensive interview, filmed in Moscow, delved into topics such as the history of Eastern Europe, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Putin’s justifications for the conflict. Putin reiterated familiar narratives, including claims about the threat to Russia’s national security and alleged neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine.
However, notable omissions from the interview include questions about alleged war crimes, political persecution, and human rights abuses in Russia and Ukraine.
Putin also dismissed concerns about potential Russian aggression against NATO countries, asserting that such actions were “absolutely out of the question.”
The interview, which lasted over two hours, garnered attention due to Carlson’s high-profile departure from Fox News and the exclusive nature of the discussion with Putin. It comes amidst heightened tensions between Russia and Western nations, particularly in the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.