What we learned from Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin

John Wight
7 min readFeb 9, 2024

First, the obvious takeaway from Tucker Carlson’s highly anticipated interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin is that sitting in the Kremlin is a man whose grasp of history, geopolitics and dialectical thinking is of an order which not only overshadows his counterparts in the West, it positively embarrasses them.

Absent of the bluster, soundbites and spin we have so sadly been conditioned to believe is serious politics in the US, UK, etc., Carlson’s two-hour long sit down with Putin was insightful, educational and, for those still living like mushrooms in the dark across Western Europe and America, also revelatory.

Yes, Carlson clearly carried his own admiration for Putin into the room. And, yes, throughout the former Fox News anchor did not engage in a serious attempt to land any blows. But this only made for greater insight into the mind and worldview of the most popular leader Russia has had since Peter the Great (1682–1725). What Carlson did is what every US president should have done since Putin first came into office in 2000. He listened.

And isn’t it telling that around the same time as Carlson released his Putin interview, free to view, on his website, US President Joe Biden, reading from an autocue, made yet another of his by now almost daily gaffs, when he referred to Egyptian President Sisi as president of Mexico. That he did so during an impromptu press conference to rail against being described in a DOJ report as having a poor memory, well this just emphasises the extent to which US politics has lapsed into theatre of the absurd territory.

Paradoxically, the main reason for Putin’s popularity in Russia is the same reason he’s so reviled in the US and Western Europe. It comes down to the simple but salient fact that when it comes to leadership and political nous,, Vladimir Putin is playing chess while his counterparts in across the collective West are playing checkers.

This is not to ascribe to the Russian leader the moral virtues of Nelson Mandela or the humanitarian instincts of Mahatma Gandhi. But neither is he the caricature regularly and vehemently described in the UK and US media. Putin is not a villain straight out of a Bond movie, sitting in the Kremlin planning and plotting world domination. For that kind of ‘Masters of the Universe’ malarkey you need to take yourself to the White House in Washington, or maybe CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

No, the Russian president is a man who knows his enemy better than they know themselves — who understands and has imbibed the truth of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s statement that “If you live among wolves you have to act like a wolf.”

What those Western ideologues and members of the liberal commentariat who’ve been lining up to attack him in their newspaper columns fail to appreciate — not to mention the army of the hacks who’ve been churning out books painting Putin as a latter day Genghis Khan — is the deep scars cleaved on the Russian psyche by the country’s exposure to freedom and democracy Western-style upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Canadian journalist and author Naomi Klein lays it out in forensic detail in her peerless work, The Shock Doctrine (Penguin, 2007). The impact of free market shock therapy on Russia under Boris Yeltsin’s presidency, Klein describes thus:

In 1989, before shock therapy, 2 million people in the Russian Federation were living in poverty, on less than $4 a day. By the time the shock therapists had administered their ‘bitter medicine’ in the mid-nineties, 74 million Russians were living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

Klein also reveals that by 1994 the Russian suicide rate had doubled and violent crime increased fourfold.

Given the devastation wrought on the Russian economy and society by Western free market gurus and their Russian disciples during that awful period, the country’s recovery to the point where it is now able to contest and resist Washington-led unipolarity where before it existed unchecked, has to count as a staggering achievement.

Russians selling their personal belongings in the street in 1992

Putin rose to power in Russia on the back of his role in violently suppressing the Chechen uprising, which began amid the chaos of the Soviet Union’s dissolution. It was a brutal and bloody conflict in which atrocities were undoubtedly committed, as they are in every conflict, until the uprising was finally crushed and Moscow’s writ restored.

Former KGB officer, Putin, was thrust into the spotlight as a key member of Boris Yeltsin’s team thereafter, viewed as a safe pair of hands. It propelled him onto the political stage and his first stint as president in 2000, when he was elected for the first time.

Since then Putin has worked to restore the Russian economy along with its sense of national pride and prestige globally. The loss of that prestige as a result of the demise of the Soviet era had a cataclysmic effect on social cohesion in a country that had long prided itself on its achievements, especially its role in defeating the Nazis in the Second World War.

Twenty-four years on a Putin is rightly credited with returning the country to its former status as a respected power that can’t and won’t be bullied by the West. The attempt to use Georgia as a cat’s paw in 2008 was swiftly dealt with, and so has the attempt to do likewise with Ukraine in 2014. All this baloney about Putin having expansionist aims is an attempt to throw a smokescreen over the West’s own expansionist agenda in Eastern Europe with the goal of throwing a cordon sanitaire around Russia in pursuit of a cold war agenda.

Russia’s game changing role in Syria and the region in general, along with China’s ferocious economic growth and growing influence, is proof that the days of unipolarity and uncontested Western hegemony are drawing to a close. This more than any other factor lies at the root of the irrational Russophobia currently being peddled so passionately in the West.

Russian fighter jets flying over Syria

The most populous country in Europe is not and never will be a Western colony or semi-colony. For those Western ideologues that cannot conceive of any relationship with Russia other than that of a deadly or defeated foe, accepting this reality is a non-negotiable condition of achieving a semblance of stability and peace in the world.

While Vladimir Putin and his government are not beyond criticism — in fact, far from it — any of his and its misdeeds pale when compared to the record of Western governments in destroying one country after the other since the demise of the Soviet Union. And this while presiding over a global economy that has sown nothing but misery and despair for millions at home and abroad, leading in the last analysis to the normalization of crisis and chaos.

Tucker Carlson deserves credit for conducting this interview at a time when US tax dollars have been lavished on the Zelensky government in Kiev to fund a war that could and should have been averted, as I explain in a previous piece. US imperialism is the key driver of this brutal and bloody conflict, using Zelensky’s Ukraine as a willing proxy to try and bleed and exhaust Russian power on the battlefield.

The unvarnished truth is that neither Zelensky nor Biden, neither von der Leyen nor Boris Johnson — none of those who’ve been engaged in prolonging the conflict have suffered for as much as a second in consequence. In what amounts to a wretched history of such conflicts, it’s the rich who start wars and the poor who fight and die in them.

Truthfully, the real enemy of the thousands of Ukrainians who’ve perished since the conflict began back in February 2022 always lay behind not in front of them. It still does to this day.


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John Wight

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