Bu Julia Davis, for CEPA

Prior to the sit-down, state TV propagandists had predicted that it would convince ordinary Americans that Russia is a land of “traditional values,” fighting against “Satanism” in Ukraine and all over the world, having invaded the neighboring country mainly to destroy dangerous American biolabs.

Instead, Vladimir Putin rambled on for nearly two hours, delivering an utterly perverted version of history, obsessing about Yaroslav the Wise (who died in 1054, apparently) and failing to articulate why he decided to invade Ukraine.

Carlson, for his part, never asked about the massive death toll of Putin’s needless military adventure, nor did he utter a peep about war crimes or asked about thousands of kidnapped Ukrainian children. The former Fox News host (fired last year for his role in a $787.5m defamation defeat) did ask about journalist Evan Gershkovich, who is wrongfully imprisoned in Russia, but nonetheless tacitly justified his arrest by conceding that he may have broken some Russian laws.

Head of RT Margarita Simonyan couldn’t conceal that her first reaction was disappointment. She wrote on X (formerly Twitter), “It’s a shame that Tucker didn’t bring up conservative values. This is his strong point — as well as the strong point of the Boss [Putin], first and foremost.”

Carlson did attempt to skew the conversation in a way that would allow Putin to showcase himself as a savior of Christianity and the defender of conservative values.

He asked, “You are a Christian leader by your own description. So, what effect does that have on you?” Instead of delivering a spiel that could potentially appeal to MAGA Americans, Putin went back to the year 988 and then proceeded to explain that Russia “absorbed” various nations that practiced Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism and these religions continue to be practiced in modern-day Russia. 

Carlson tried it again, asking Putin, “So do you see the supernatural at work as you look out across what’s happening in the world now? Do you see God at work? Do you ever think to yourself, these are forces that are not human?” Somehow, Putin again missed the cue and let his true Soviet feelings shine through. He replied, “No, to be honest. I don’t think so.”

Despite her initial disappointment, Simonyan bounced back and a few days later was praising the sit-down on Vladimir Solovyov’s show, Sunday Evening With Vladimir Solovyov. After all, she was admittedly instrumental in making sure that this interview took place, having been pestered by Tucker Carlson to make it happen since 2021.

Voicing no criticism whatsoever this time, Simonyan’s only complaint was that the interview didn’t happen sooner, since she believes it would imperil US aid to Ukraine even more than it currently is. Filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov noted, “Information is the most powerful weapon!” 

Simonyan declared, “This was the most successful, the most significant, and a truly historic media event in journalism in the history of humanity!” 

Margarita praised Putin’s intellect and claimed that the breadth of his knowledge “stunned” uneducated Americans, who don’t read, typically don’t own any books, and whose homes don’t have any bookcases or bookshelves. Simonyan predicted that the interview would impact the US elections because Carlson’s agenda was “to kick Biden as hard as he could.”

The RT head and her husband, Tigran Keosayan, reportedly broke into tears listening to Putin, when he described the bloody and brutal invasion of Ukraine as “a civil war.” Simonyan compared the fighting to the two Chechen wars (1994-1996 and 1999-2000), rejoicing that despite prior bad blood, Chechens now fight alongside Russians in Ukraine — and essentially doing to Ukrainians what Russia did to them.  

This is a popular theme that has been frequently showcased by the Russian media — a belief that once Russia defeats Ukraine, Ukrainians will cheerily join the ranks of the Russian armed forces and fight alongside them against Europe and America.

Last year, during his appearance on The Meeting Place, violinist Petr Lundstrem said: “What we need is the repeat of what happened 20 years ago in Chechnya. The people who are fighting against us now, should be fighting for us in the future”.       

In January of this year, Daniil Bezsonov, Deputy Minister of Information of the Kremlin’s puppet government, the Donetsk People’s Republic, described Ukrainians as Russia’s “mobilization resource in a future war with NATO.”

Last Tuesday, appearing on Full Contact with Vladimir Solovyov, Maj. Gen. Apti Alaudinov, Chechen commander of Akhmat special forces and deputy commander of the 2nd Army Corps, promoted the same notion.

He predicted, “I think that the final outcome of all this will be that the Ukrainian people will join our ranks and will jointly fight with us to defeat the Hydra that is in power there and the Hydra that is confronting them from abroad, in America and Europe.”

Alaudinov said he anticipates that these battles will continue until approximately 2030.

Julia Davis is a columnist for The Daily Beast and the creator of the Russian Media Monitor. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Screen Actors Guild, and Women In Film.

Europe’s Edge is CEPA’s online journal covering critical topics on the foreign policy docket across Europe and North America. All opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or views of the institutions they represent or the Center for European Policy Analysis.