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Fact Check: Putin's Interview with Tucker Carlson Allegedly Included a Threat of War with the US. Here Are the Facts

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Claim:

In an interview with Tucker Carlson in February 2024, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened the United States with war.

Rating:

Rating: False
Rating: False

On Feb. 6, 2024, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson sat down for an interview with Vladimir Putin. It was the president of Russia's first interview with an American since Russia's attempted invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. Carlson's independent streaming service, Tucker Carlson Network, aired the interview and uploaded it to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Feb. 8, 2024.

The interview took about two hours, so news organizations and social media users alike spread clips and soundbites in their coverage of the event. One post on X showed a screenshot of a news article from The New Zealand Herald that read "'Serious global conflict': Putin threatens US with war in Tucker Carlson interview." The user claimed that Putin never said that during the interview.

We found no evidence Putin made such a direct threat either, so we rate this claim as "False."

To check the claim, Snopes first investigated whether the headline was real. We found the headline on the front page of The New Zealand Herald, as shown in the X post. However, clicking on the link to read the story revealed a different, less provocative headline: "Former Fox host Tucker Carlson releases interview with Vladimir Putin on social media." Put simply, the more dramatic headline was found only on the site's front page, as if the headline's sole purpose was to draw more attention to the article.

Next, we checked the interview itself to see whether we could identify any points where Putin could have been interpreted as threatening war with the United States. We took an English-language transcript of the interview released by the Kremlin and cross-referenced it with the version of the interview posted to Carlson's X account.

In an ideal world, Snopes would have independently translated the interview to avoid using the Russian government as a primary source. However, because the interview was intended for an English-speaking audience, Putin's replies were translated and overdubbed in English, preventing us from hearing the original Russian. The Kremlin transcript closely matched the dubbed translation provided in the video, but Snopes could not independently verify the exact words Putin used.

With that said, neither the video nor the written evidence supported the claim that Putin threatened war. The following excerpt, which begins around 1:07:00 and lasts until 1:11:35 in the video posted to X, is the clip we found most closely resembling the claim.

Tucker Carlson: Do you think NATO was worried about this becoming a global war or nuclear conflict?

Vladimir Putin: At least that's what they're talking about. And they are trying to intimidate their own population with an imaginary Russian threat. This is an obvious fact. And thinking people, not philistines, but thinking people, analysts, those who are engaged in real politics, just smart people understand perfectly well that this is a fake. They are trying to fuel the Russian threat.

Tucker Carlson: The threat I think you were referring to is Russian invasion of Poland, Latvia — expansionist behavior. Can you imagine a scenario where you send Russian troops to Poland?

Vladimir Putin: Only in one case: if Poland attacks Russia. Why? Because we have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else. Why would we do that? We simply don't have any interest. Its just threat mongering.

Tucker Carlson: Well, the argument, I know you know this, is that, well, he invaded Ukraine — he has territorial aims across the continent. And you are saying unequivocally, you don’t?

Vladimir Putin: It is absolutely out of the question. You just don't have to be any kind of analyst, it goes against common sense to get involved in some kind of global war. And a global war will bring all of humanity to the brink of destruction. It's obvious.

There are, certainly, means of deterrence. They have been scaring everyone with us all along: tomorrow Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons, tomorrow Russia will use that, no, the day after tomorrow. So what? These are just horror stories for people in the street in order to extort additional money from US taxpayers and European taxpayers in the confrontation with Russia in the Ukrainian theatre of war. The goal is to weaken Russia as much as possible.

Tucker Carlson: One of our senior United States senators from the State of New York, Chuck Schumer, said yesterday, I believe, that we have to continue to fund the Ukrainian effort or US soldiers, citizens could wind up fighting there. How do you assess that?

Vladimir Putin: This is a provocation, and a cheap provocation at that.

I do not understand why American soldiers should fight in Ukraine. There are mercenaries from the United States there. The biggest number of mercenaries comes from Poland, with mercenaries from the United States in second place, and mercenaries from Georgia in third place. Well, if somebody has the desire to send regular troops, that would certainly bring humanity on the brink of a very serious, global conflict. This is obvious…

In this clip, Putin does mention that sending "regular troops" to Ukraine would "bring humanity [to] the brink of a very serious, global conflict." However, he had just stated that "it goes against common sense to get involved in some kind of global war."

Because those two statements contradict each other, we determine that there was never really an explicit threat of war made against the United States, and thus the claim is not true. Pointing out that neither side truly wants a global war indirectly implies that it would be foolish for the United States to escalate in Ukraine, allowing Putin to continue to threaten retaliation without giving U.S. officials any new information about how he might actually react to an escalation.

Sources:

Https://Twitter.Com/GeromanAT/Status/1755870696217944330.” X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/GeromanAT/status/1755870696217944330. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

Https://Twitter.Com/TuckerCarlson/Status/1755734526678925682.” X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/TuckerCarlson/status/1755734526678925682. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

“Interview to Tucker Carlson.” President of Russia, 9 Feb. 2024, http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/73411.

Ljunggren, David, et al. “Putin Tells Tucker Carlson Russia Has No Interest in Attacking Poland or Latvia.” Reuters, 9 Feb. 2024. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/putin-rare-us-interview-says-russia-has-no-interest-attacking-poland-or-latvia-2024-02-09/.

Murphy, J. Kim. “Tucker Carlson Shares Controversial Two-Hour Vladimir Putin Interview.” Variety, 9 Feb. 2024, https://variety.com/2024/digital/news/tucker-carlson-vladimir-putin-interview-1235902906/.

“‘Serious Global Conflict’: Putin Threatens US with War in Tucker Carlson Interview.” NZ Herald, 10 Feb. 2024, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/former-fox-host-tucker-carlson-releases-interview-with-vladimir-putin-on-to-social-media/XD27XPXEQFBCFGPPQVEWQ7ODL4/.