Part 4 - NATO & Ukraine start civil war (Putin and Tucker Carlson)
Tucker Carlson interviews President Vladimir Putin.
“We did not start this war in 2022. This is an attempt to stop it.”
Now, about NATO's expansion to the East. Well, we were promised, no NATO to the East, not an inch to the East, as we were told. And then what? They said, ”Well, it's not enshrined on paper, so we'll expand.“ So there were five waves of expansion, the Baltic States, the whole of Eastern Europe, and so on.
And now I come to the main thing: they have come to Ukraine ultimately. In 2008 at the summit in Bucharest they declared that the doors for Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO were open.
Now about how decisions are made there. Germany, France seemed to be against it as well as some other European countries. But then, as it turned out later, President Bush, and he is such a tough guy, a tough politician, as I was told later, ”He exerted pressure on us and we had to agree.“ It's ridiculous, it's like kindergarten. Where are the guarantees? What kindergarten is this, what kind of people are these, who are they? You see, they were pressed, they agreed. And then they say, ”Ukraine won't be in NATO, you know.“ I say, ”I don't know, I know you agreed in 2008, why won't you agree in the future?“ ”Well, they pressed us then.“ I say, ”Why won't they press you tomorrow? And you'll agree again.“
Well, it's nonsensical. Who's there to talk to, I just don't understand. We're ready to talk. But with whom? Where are the guarantees? None.
So, they started to develop the territory of Ukraine. Whatever is there, I have told you the background, how this territory developed, what kind of relations there were with Russia. Every second or third person there has always had some ties with Russia. And during the elections in already independent, sovereign Ukraine, which gained its independence as a result of the Declaration of Independence, and, by the way, it says that Ukraine is a neutral state, and in 2008 suddenly the doors or gates to NATO were open to it. Oh, come on! This is not how we agreed. Now, all the presidents that have come to power in Ukraine, they've relied on an electorate with a good attitude to Russia in one way or another. This is the south-east of Ukraine, this is a large number of people. And it was very difficult to dissuade this electorate, which had a positive attitude towards Russia.
Viktor Yanukovych came to power, and how: the first time he won after President Kuchma – they organised a third round, which is not provided for in the Constitution of Ukraine. This is a coup d'état. Just imagine, someone in the United States wouldn’t like the outcome…
Tucker Carlson: In 2014?
Vladimir Putin: Before that. No, this was before that. After President Kuchma, Viktor Yanukovich won the elections. However, his opponents did not recognize that victory, the US supported the opposition and the third round was scheduled. What is this? This is a coup. The US supported it and the winner of the third round came to power. Imagine if in the US, something was not to someone’s liking and the third round of election, which the US Constitution does not provide for, was organized, Nonetheless, it was done in Ukraine. Okay, Viktor Yushchenko who was considered a pro-Western politician, came to power. Fine, we have built relations with him as well. He came to Moscow with visits, we visited Kiev. I visited it too. We met in an informal setting. If he is pro-Western, so be it. It’s fine, let people do their job. The situation should develop inside the independent Ukraine itself. As a result of Kuchma’s leadership, things got worse and Viktor Yanukovich came to power after all.
Maybe he wasn’t the best President and politician. I don’t know, I don’t want to give assessments. However, the issue of the association with the EU came up. We have always been lenient to this: suit yourself. But when we read through that treaty of association it turned out to be a problem for us, since we had a free-trade zone and open customs borders with Ukraine which, under this association, had to open its borders for Europe, which could have led to flooding of our market.
We said, “No, this is not going to work. We shall close our borders with Ukraine then”. The customs borders, that is. Yanukovich started to calculate how much Ukraine was going to gain, how much to lose and said to his European partners: “I need more time to think before signing”. The moment he said that, the opposition began to take destructive steps which were supported by the West. It all came down to Maidan and a coup in Ukraine.
Tucker Carlson: So, he did more trade with Russia than with the EU? Ukraine did…
Vladimir Putin: Of course. It’s not even the matter of trade volume, although for the most part it is. It is the matter of cooperation ties which the entire Ukrainian economy was based on. The cooperation ties between the enterprises were very close since the times of the Soviet Union. One enterprise there used to produce components to be assembled both in Russia and Ukraine and vice versa. There used to be very close ties.
A coup d’etat was committed, although, I shall not delve into details now as I find doing it inappropriate, the US told us, “Calm Yanukovich down and we will calm the opposition. Let the situation unfold in the scenario of a political settlement”. We said, “Alright. Agreed. Let’s do it this way”. As the Americans requested us, Yanukovich did use neither the Armed Forces, nor the police, yet the armed opposition committed a coup in Kiev. What is that supposed to mean? “Who do you think you are?”, I wanted to ask the then US leadership.
Tucker Carlson: With the backing of whom?
Vladimir Putin: With the backing of CIA, of course. The organization you wanted to join back in the day, as I understand. Maybe we should thank God they didn’t let you in. Although, it is a serious organization. I understand. My former vis-à-vis, in the sense that I served in the First Main Directorate – Soviet Union’s intelligence service. They have always been our opponents. A job is a job.
Technically they did everything right, they achieved their goal of changing the government. However, from political standpoint, it was a colossal mistake. Surely, it was political leadership’s miscalculation. They should have seen what it would evolve into.
“How could we not express concern over what was happening? From our side, this would have been a culpable negligence.” - Putin
So, in 2008 the doors of NATO were opened for Ukraine.
In 2014, there was a coup, they started persecuting those who did not accept the coup, and it was indeed a coup, they created a threat to Crimea which we had to take under our protection.
They launched a war in Donbass in 2014 with the use of aircraft and artillery against civilians. This is when it started. There is a video of aircraft attacking Donetsk from above. They launched a large-scale military operation, then another one. When they failed, they started to prepare the next one. All this against the background of military development of this territory and opening of NATO’s doors.
How could we not express concern over what was happening? From our side, this would have been a culpable negligence – that’s what it would have been. It’s just that the US political leadership pushed us to the line we could not cross because doing so could have ruined Russia itself. Besides, we could not leave our brothers in faith and, in fact, a part of Russian people, in the face of this “war machine”.
Tucker Carlson: So, that was eight years before the current conflict started. What was the trigger for you? What was the moment where you decided you had to do this?
Vladimir Putin: Initially, it was the coup in Ukraine that provoked the conflict.
By the way, back then the representatives of three European countries – Germany, Poland and France – arrived. They were the guarantors of the signed agreement between the Government of Yanukovich and the opposition. They signed it as guarantors. Despite that, the opposition committed a coup and all these countries pretended that they didn’t remember that they were guarantors of peaceful settlement. They just threw it in the stove right away and nobody recalls that.
I don’t know if the US know anything about that agreement between the opposition and the authorities and its three guarantors who, instead of bringing this whole situation back in the political field, supported the coup. Although, it was meaningless, believe me, because President Yanukovich agreed to all conditions, he was ready to hold early election which he had no chance to win, frankly speaking, Everyone knew that. Then why the coup, why the victims? Why threatening Crimea? Why launching an operation in Donbass? This I do not understand. That is exactly what the miscalculation is. CIA did its job to complete the coup. I think one of the Deputy Secretaries of State said that it cost a large sum of money, almost 5 billion. But the political mistake was colossal! Why would they have to do that? All this could have been done legally, without victims, without military action, without losing Crimea. We would have never considered to even lift a finger, if it hadn’t been for the bloody developments on Maidan.
Because we agreed with the fact that after the collapse of the Soviet Union our borders should be along the borders of former Union’s republics. We agreed to that. But we never agreed to NATO’s expansion and moreover we never agreed that Ukraine would be in NATO. We did not agree to NATO bases there without any discussion with us. For decades we kept asking: don’t do this, don’t do that.
And what triggered the latest events? Firstly, the current Ukrainian leadership declared that it would not implement the Minsk Agreements, which had been signed, as you know, after the events of 2014, in Minsk, where the plan of peaceful settlement in Donbass was set forth. But no, the current Ukrainian leadership, Foreign Minister, all other officials and then President himself said that they don’t like anything about the Minsk Agreements. In other words, they were not going to implement it. A year or a year and a half ago, former leaders of Germany and France said openly to the whole world that they indeed signed the Minsk Agreements but they never intended to implement them. They simply led us by the nose.
Tucker Carlson: Was there anyone free to talk to? Did you call the US President, Secretary of State and say if you keep militarizing Ukraine with NATO forces, we are going to act?
Vladimir Putin: We talked about this all the time. We addressed the United States’ and European countries’ leadership to stop these developments immediately, to implement the Minsk Agreements. Frankly speaking, I didn’t know how we were going to do this but I was ready to implement them. These Agreements were complicated for Ukraine; they included lots of elements of those Donbass territories’ independence. That’s true. However, I was absolutely confident, and I am saying this to you now: I honestly believed that if we managed to convince the residents of Donbass – and we had to work hard to convince them to return to the Ukrainian statehood – then gradually the wounds would start to heal. When this part of territory reintegrated itself into common social environment, when the pensions and social benefits were paid again, all the pieces would gradually fall into place.
No, nobody wanted that, everybody wanted to resolve the issue by military force only. But we could not let that happen. And the situation got to the point, when the Ukrainian side announced: ”No, we will not do anything“. They also started preparing for military action.
It was they who started the war in 2014. Our goal is to stop this war. And we did not start this war in 2022. This is an attempt to stop it.
Read my detailed article on NATO below.
TUCKER CARLSON INTERVIEWS PUTIN (2024)
Watch the full video interview