MOSCOW, February 9. /TASS/. Moscow has never refused to hold talks on Ukraine and is confident that the conflict will sooner or later end in peace and relations between the two countries’ people will be restored, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Tucker Carlson published on the US journalist’s website. The Russian leader also did not rule out that US national Evan Gershkovich, charged with espionage in Russia, might be released, and shared his opinion of celebrity entrepreneur Elon Musk.
TASS has gathered the key takeaways from the president’s interview.
On talks on Ukraine
Russia has never refused to engage in dialogue on Ukraine but after the Istanbul talks were suspended in March 2022, Moscow has no intention of taking the first step. "Why do we have to bother ourselves and correct somebody else's mistakes?"
The conditions for resolving the issue, including the option of keeping the situation where it is now, need to be discussed. "It is a subject matter for the negotiations no one is willing to conduct or, to put it more accurately, they're willing, but do not know how to do it. I know they want to. It is not just I see it, but I know they do want it, but they are struggling to understand how to do it."
On why London disrupted Istanbul talks
"Who knows. I don't understand it myself. There was a general starting point. For some reason, everyone had the illusion that Russia could be defeated on the battlefield. Because of arrogance, because of a pure heart, but not because of a great mind."
On future relations with Ukrainians
The West is wrong when it thinks that "the Russian people have been split by hostilities forever": "Sooner or later it will result in an agreement." "This probably sounds strange given the current situation but the relations between the two peoples will be rebuilt anyway. It will take a lot of time, but they will heal."
On Ukraine’s borders
Ukraine is an artificial state in a sense, "shaped at Stalin's will" particularly of Hungarian, Polish and Romanian lands. Putin said he had never discussed a possible return of the Hungarian lands, which had been handed over to Ukraine under Stalin, with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban. As for the Black Sea region, it "had no historical connection with Ukraine whatsoever."
On responsibility for Ukrainian crisis
"I know one can say it is our mistake. It was us who intensified the situation and decided to put an end to the war that started in 2014, in Donbass. As I have already said, by means of weapons." However, NATO’s expansion in breach of earlier promises is also something to remember. "Let us go back to the coup d'etat in Ukraine in 2014. It is pointless, though, isn't it? We may go back and forth endlessly."
On 'Russian threat'
Allegations of the "Russian threat" are aimed at intimidating common people: "We have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else. <...> It's just threat mongering."
On possible conversation with Biden
Putin has repeatedly warned US President Joe Biden that he is "making a huge mistake of historic proportions <...> by pushing Russia away." Russia and the US currently maintain contact at the level of various government agencies with Moscow saying that Washington needs to stop supplying weapons to Kiev and "it will be over within a few weeks."
On Gershkovich case
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was definitely engaged in espionage. Moscow is ready to release him if its "partners take reciprocal steps:" "We have done so many gestures of goodwill out of decency that I think we have run out of them." Russian and US intelligence agencies are in talks. "I do not rule out that <...> Mr. Gershkovich may return to his motherland." There are some people jailed in the West who, according to Moscow, "are not connected with special services," including "a person (it may be alleged Russian national Vadim Krasikov convicted in Germany - TASS), who, "due to patriotic sentiments, eliminated a bandit in one of the European capitals."
On Nord Stream pipelines
Russia has not presented the evidence it has with regard to the Nord Stream pipeline explosions because "in the war of propaganda, it is very difficult to defeat the United States because the United States controls all the world's media and many European media." "So it is possible to get involved in this work, but it is cost prohibitive, so to speak. <...> It is clear to the whole world what happened."
On cooperation with China
Allegations that cooperation with China is dangerous for Russia are nothing but boogeyman stories. Europe maintains even closer cooperation with China. "Ask Europeans, are they afraid?"
On Russia in NATO
Moscow inquired into the possibility of joining NATO and invited Washington to build a common missile defense system together. US presidents supported the initiatives but their administrations rejected them. "And then they just told us to get lost. <...> We created hypersonic systems with intercontinental range, and we continue to develop them."
Washington kept putting pressure on Moscow particularly because there were too many experts on confrontation with the Soviet Union in the US. "It is necessary to get rid of this. There should be new, fresh forces, people who look into the future and understand what is happening in the world."
On US policies
Washington’s policy does not depend on who the country’s president is. "It is not about the personality of the leader. It is about the elites’ mindset." Today, the United States is trying unsuccessfully to adapt to the changing world by using force but "the tools that the US uses don't work." The world will "change regardless of how the developments in Ukraine end." The US position in the world will also change, and "the only question is how this will happen, painfully and quickly or gently and gradually."
On technologies and Elon Musk
Humanity needs to make agreements on regulating the field of artificial intelligence, genetic research and other research activities that are "impossible to stop."
"There are reports that Elon Musk has already had a chip implanted in the human brain. <...> I think there's no stopping Elon Musk. He will do as he sees fit. Nevertheless, you'll need to find some common ground with him. Search for ways to persuade him."