The truth about Putin, Russia and war in Ukraine


The famous and controversial American television presenter Tucker Carlson recently raised eyebrows especially in the USA and Europe when he broadcast an interview of more than two hours with the Russian President Vladimir Putin on social media from Moscow.

Carlson was previously a presenter on Fox News, but nowadays runs his own alternative news service. The interview with Putin, the first by a Western journalist since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine almost two years ago, has already been watched by more than 200 million people.

In the run-up to the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Carlson’s interview with Putin offers important perspective on the Russian motivations for the war, but also the larger questions about power relations in Eastern Europe and the world since the end of the Cold War. . What it does not do, however, is change the truth about this.

What the war in Ukraine revealed to us is still the same. The West is experiencing a period of unprecedented weak leadership. European countries no longer have the military capacity to defend themselves without help from the US. In America, there is a large new rift between those who still believe that America must play an important role as an international watchdog and those who are increasingly gathering support for a much more restrained American foreign policy that last prevailed before the First World War.

However, what has also become clear since the outbreak of the war is the extent of missed opportunities by the West to draw Russia closer as an ally after the end of the Cold War. In the Carlson interview, Putin creates his own historical realities on various issues, but what he is right about is that during the 1990s Russia wanted to position itself closer to the West, but that this was prevented by Europe, NATO and especially the security forces in the USA is.

Another reality that was revealed by the war, and which did not apply in the death throes of the Cold War in the 1980s, is the increasing potential for countries like Russia and Iran to continue economically despite being isolated by Western sanctions. strain due to ties with countries such as China, India and fast-growing economies in Asia and the Middle East. Despite huge sanctions against Russia, the Russian economy has been able to continue growing in the past two years due to closer trade ties with the so-called Global South.

Vladimir Putin succeeds very well in exposing Western weaknesses and capitalizing on them. Putin and his authoritarian takeover of Russia over the past two and a half decades is a product or even a symptom of the failures of the West and NATO in the 1990s.

However, none of that justifies the war in Ukraine. Nothing Putin said to Carlson is any justification for a war in which hundreds of thousands of people have already died. Russia has become more authoritarian and more repressive under Putin’s leadership, and especially in the last two years. Russia’s cooperation and support for despotic regimes such as Iran, but also juntas in many African countries, is dangerous.

When Vladimir Putin speaks the truth and exposes Western weaknesses, it does not mean that he suddenly takes the moral high ground. It is important that we retain the ability to make this distinction.

This news commentary was provided by Pretoria FM. Listen daily to Clankkoerant on Pretoria FM for the latest news commentary.