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Sunday, May 26, 2024 - 06:29 PM


First Published in 1994


Tucker Carson Interview of Vladimir Putin - Part 3 of a Series

The Changing Balance of Power Tucker and Putin Interview
Languages of Ukraine, University of Kyiv, 2014

In Part 2 of this series, Putin had explained to Tucker Carlson how most of southern and eastern Ukraine were part of the Russian Empire and were both culturally Russian and Russian-speaking before the Soviet Union was formed in 1921. Nevertheless, the Bolsheviks placed these still culturally and ethnically Russian oblasts (states) in Soviet Ukraine. These included Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odessa. 

Commentary: The Soviets sometimes used a strategy of preventing loyalties other than centralized Soviet loyalty by shifting borders and peoples as necessary to strengthen and maintain  highly centralized national power. They were not states-rights advocates. They were centralized power advocates.

Also, remember that in instant oral translation of Russian, there are many grammatical rough edges, which lend themselves to easy misinterpretation,  

Vladimir Putin continued: Russia has 150 million people, and China has a 1.5 billion population, and its economy is growing by leaps and bounds — over five percent a year, it used to be even more. But that's enough for China. As Bismark once put it, potentials are most important. China's potential is enormous — it is the biggest economy in the world today in terms of purchasing power parity and the size of the economy. It has already overtaken the United States, quite a long time ago, After World War II, Ukraine received, in addition to the lands that had belonged to Poland before the war, part of the lands that had previously belonged to Hungary and Romania--today Western Ukraine. So Romania and Hungary had some of their lands taken away and given to the Ukraine and they still remain part of Ukraine. So in this sense, we have every reason to affirm that Ukraine is an artificial state that was shaped at Stalin’s will.

Commentary: China is now first in the world in PPP GDP, that is annual GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity with $33.7 trillion in 2023. The U.S. is second with $23.7 trillion. India was third with $16.9 trillion, and Japan fourth with $5.8 trillion. Russia displaced Germany from fifth place with $5.7 trillion. Climate Change deindustrializing Germany dropped behind Indonesia to seventh place with $5.0 trillion.

Tucker Carlson: Do you believe Hungary has a right to take back its land from Ukraine? And that other nations have a right to go back to their 1654 borders?

Commentary: There are about 157,000 Hungarians in Ukraine. Most of them are concentrated close to the Hungarian border in Zakarpattia (Trans-Carpathian) oblast. They are only about 12 percent of the population of the oblast. The Ukrainians have generally tried to suppress  Hungarian culture, just as they have tried to suppress Russian culture in southern and eastern Ukraine. This has caused frequent friction. The area they occupy once belonged to Hungary. Most do not support Ukraine’s war against Russia and resist heavy-handed military recruitment. Western Ukraine is an area where ethnic Ukrainian purity has sometimes become a vicious.  issue.

Vladimir Putin: I am not sure whether they should go back to the 1654 borders, but given Stalin’s time, so-called Stalin’s regime — which as many claim saw numerous violations of human rights and violations of the rights of other states – one may say that they could claim back those lands of theirs, while having no right to do that, it is at least understandable…

Tucker Carlson: Have you told Viktor Orbán that he can have a part of Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin: I never said so. Never, not once. He and I didn’t even have any conversations about this. But I know for sure that the Hungarians who live there, of course, want to return to their historical homeland.

Moreover, I would like to share a very interesting story with you, I'll digress, it's a personal one. Somewhere in the early 80's, I went on a road trip on a car from then-Leningrad - now St. Petersburg, across the Soviet Union through Kiev, made a stop in Kiev, and then went to Western Ukraine. I went to the town of Borogoves, and all the names of towns and villages there were in Russian and in a language I didn't understand – in Hungarian . In Russian and in Hungarian. Not in Ukrainian – in Russian and in Hungarian.

I was driving through some kind of a village and there were men sitting next to the houses and they were wearing black three-piece suits and black cylinder hats. I asked, ”Are they some kind of entertainers?“ I was told, ”No, they're not entertainers. They're Hungarians. ‘I said, ‘What are they doing here?’ — ‘What do you mean? This is their land, they live here.’ This was during the Soviet time, in the 1980’s. They preserve the Hungarian language, Hungarian names, and all their national costumes. They are Hungarians and they feel themselves to be Hungarians. And of course, when now there is an infringement….

Tucker Carlson: And there’s a lot of that though, I think. Many nations feel upset about — there are Transylvanians as well as you, others, you know — but many nations feel frustrated by their re-drawn borders after the wars of the 20th century, and wars going back a thousand years, the ones that you mention, but the fact is that you didn’t make this case in public until two years ago in February, and in the case that you made, which I read today, you explain a great length that you thought a physical threat from the West and NATO, including potentially a nuclear threat, and that’s what got you to move. Is that a fair characterization of what you said?

Vladimir Putin: I understand that my long speeches probably fall outside of the genre of an interview. That’s why I asked you at the beginning: will we have a serious conversation or a show? You said it was a serious conversation. So don't be offended by me, please.

We have come to the moment when Soviet Ukraine was created. Then there was 1991 - the collapse of the Soviet Union. And everything that Ukraine received as a gift from Russia, “from the master’s shoulder,” she took with her.

I'm coming to a very important point of today's agenda. After all, the collapse of the Soviet Union was effectively initiated by the Russian leadership. I do not understand what the Russian leadership was guided by at the time, but I suspect there were several reasons to think everything would be fine.

Firstly, I think that the Russian leadership proceeded from the fundamental principles of relations between Russia and Ukraine: a common language — more than 90 percent of the population there spoke Russian; family ties — every third person there had some kind of family or friendship ties; common culture; common history; finally, common faith; co-existence within a single state for centuries; and deeply interconnected economies. All of these were so fundamental. All these elements together make our good relations inevitable.

The second point is a very important one. I want you as an American citizen and your viewers to hear about this as well. The former Russian leadership assumed that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and therefore there were no longer any ideological dividing lines. Russia even agreed, voluntarily and proactively, to the collapse of the Soviet Union and believed that this would be understood by the so-called in scare quotes ”civilized West“ as an invitation for cooperation and associateship. That is what Russia was expecting both from the United States and the so-called collective West as a whole.

There were smart people, including in Germany. Egon Bahr, a major politician of the Social Democratic Party, who insisted in his personal conversations with the Soviet leadership on the brink of the collapse of the Soviet Union that a new security system should be established in Europe. Help should be given to unify Germany, but a new system should also be established to include the United States, Canada, Russia, and other Central European countries. But NATO needs not to expand. That's what he said: if NATO expands, everything would be just the same as during the Cold War, only closer to Russia's borders. That's all. He was a wise old man, but no one listened to him. In fact, he got angry once - we have a record of this conversation in our archives: ”If, he said, you don't listen to me, I'm never setting my foot in Moscow once again.“ He was frustrated with the Soviet leadership. He was right, everything happened just as he had said.

Tucker Carlson: Well, of course, it did come true, and you’ve mentioned it many times. I think, it’s a fair point. And many in America thought that relations between Russia and United States would be fine after the collapse of the Soviet Union, at the core. But the opposite happened. But have never explained why you think that happened, except to say that the West fears a strong Russia. But we have a strong China that the West doesn’t seem to be very afraid of. What about Russia, what do you think convinced the policymakers to take it down?

Vladimir Putin: The West is afraid of a strong China more than it fears a strong Russia because and it is growing at a rapid clip.

Now we won’t say who is afraid of whom, let’s not talk in such categories. Let’s talk about the fact that after 1991, when Russia expected to be taken into the fraternal family of “civilized peoples,” nothing like that happened. You deceived us - when I say “you,” I don’t mean you personally, of course, but the United States - you promised that there would be no NATO expansion to the east, but this happened five times, five waves of expansion. We endured everything, persuaded everything, said: no need, we are now our own, as they say, bourgeois, we have a market economy, there is no power of the Communist Party, let's come to an agreement.

Moreover, I have also said this publicly before, let's look at Yeltsin's times now, there was a moment when a certain rift started growing between us. Before that, Yeltsin came to the United States, remember, he spoke in Congress and said the good words: ”God bless America“. Everything he said were signals — let us in.

Remember the developments in Yugoslavia. Before that, Yeltsin was lavished with praise. As soon as the developments in Yugoslavia started, he raised his voice in support of Serbs, and we could not but raise our voices for Serbs in their defense. I understand that there were complex processes underway there, I do. But Russia could not help raising its voice in support of Serbs, because Serbs are also a special and close to us nation, with Orthodox culture and so on. It's a nation that has suffered so much for generations. Well, regardless, what is important is that Yeltsin expressed his support. What did the United States do? In violation of international law and the UN Charter it started bombing Belgrade.

It was the United States that let the genie out of the bottle. Moreover, when Russia protested and expressed its resentment, what was said? The UN Charter and international law have become obsolete. Now everyone invokes international law, but at that time they started saying that everything was outdated, everything had to be changed.

Indeed, some things need to be changed as the balance of power has changed, it's true, but not in this manner. Yeltsin was immediately dragged through the mud, accused of alcoholism, of understanding nothing, of knowing nothing. He understood everything, I assure you.


Mike ScruggsMike Scruggs is the author of two books: The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths; and Lessons from the Vietnam War: Truths the Media Never Told You, and over 600 articles on military history, national security, intelligent design, genealogical genetics, immigration, current political affairs, Islam, and the Middle East.

He holds a BS degree from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Stanford University. A former USAF intelligence officer and Air Commando, he is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and Air Medal. He is a retired First Vice President for a major national financial services firm and former Chairman of the Board of a classical Christian school.

Click the website below to order books. http://www.universalmediainc.org/books.htm.