Reflection of the Tucker Carlson – Vladimir Putin interview in Romania

April 2024


Tucker Carlson, the television host, conducted a two-hour interview with Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation[1]. This discussion took place in Moscow on February 6, 2024. The central topic of the interview was the justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin presented perspectives related to the history of Russia and Ukraine, while Carlson avoided critical questions and avoided seeking clarifications.

Putin pushed several narratives, some of which have been discussed by Global Focus before including: toxic pacifism[2] (spreading fear of global war and positing that only Ukraine should make compromises under the guise of peace), territorial revisionism (for the benefit of neighbouring countries including Romania), the idea that Russia is misunderstood, allegations of CIA blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines and the thesis that the West in fact the aggressor by coming too close to Russian borders.

On Google Trends, a tool that gauges popular online interest by the number of Google searches, the topic garnered an interest that was 30-50% above the general baseline interest in Ukraine. This makes the event notable but not sensational.

Data and Graph, Google Trends

Support for Putin and/or Tucker Carlson

Far-right/pro-Russian actors reacted to the Putin-Carlson meeting following two main directions – one of support for and identification with the host and the Russian President, and one of support for Carlson, but without an explicit one for Putin and his talking points.

Extremist voices were quick to praise Putin for his performance, but also to defend Carlson’s “legitimate and professional”, claiming it “followed all journalistic standards”[3], and to associate the false claims of EU sanctions against him with the “censorship on free speech” imposed by “Brussels bureaucrats” on social media platforms[4].

“A patriotic journalist risking his life for the freedom of speech” and “the new world champion of political leaders”

Soon after Tucker Carlson’s Moscow visit was announced, on February 7, CozminGușă, former MP, current President of the Romanian Judo Federation and political commentator claimed, on his Gold FM radio show, that “the legendary host was threatened with prison in the U.S. if he dared to interview Vladimir Putin” and asked his listeners and social media followers to “applaud Carlson for his professionalism and courage[5], calling him “a patriotic journalist risking his life for the freedom of speech” via a Facebook post[6].  

After its release, on February 9, Gușă described the sit-down as the “interview of the century”, saying that “Putin amazed through precision, erudition, patriotism – attributes we no longer associate with the political leaders of the collective West – managing to establish himself as the informal leader of European sovereignists and co-leader of Global sovereignists along with Donald Trump”. Gușă concluded that Putin confirmed his status as “defender of Christianity” and “knight of Orthodoxy”, and analogised the meeting with a “kata” (a demonstrative Judo match) out of which the Russian President came as “the new world champion of political leaders”, who faced the “ideal [conversation] partner”[7].

The take of Dan Diaconu, an unidentified pro-Russia “economist” regularly writing on his blog “Economic Trends”[8] and often cited by Sputnik as one of the “internet’s most appreciated figure”[9], was shared on the far-right Facebook page “În slujba semenilor” (“In the service of fellow men”) – “Putin’s entire rhetoric is rational, logical, well founded […] much of the information shared was thoroughly censored by the terrorist system guiding the West[10].

Diaconu also reacted to the now disproven claim that EU considered imposing sanctions on Carlson over the interview, A fragment of his blog entry was shared on the Facebook page of “Gândește România”[11] (“Think Romania”) – “Sanctions against Carlson are not an accident. If you remember when Musk talked about his vision of absolute freedom on Twitter, Brussels bureaucrats firmly responded that he can say whatever he wants, but in the EU he must follow the rules. What rules? Those that impose massive censorship of content.[12]

Aurelian Pavelescu, former MP and current President of the Christian-Democratic National Peasants’ Party (PNȚCD), wrote on his Facebook page about the “media lynching” orchestrated by Romanian journalists – “stupid” and subservient to power – against Tucker Carlson, in order “to manipulate and intimidate” the public, contending that reports of the Carlson’s ties to the Kremlin are “absurd” and part of the “war propaganda” that turned into a “dictatorship and a terror instrument used against the citizens”.

“Next step – the arrests are coming!”[13], concluded Pavelescu, a former founding member of the National Liberal Party (PNL), illustrating the fearmongering increasingly present in the discourse of Romanian extremist actors.

Main narratives

Toxic pacifism

Wouldn’t it be better to come to an agreement with Russia? To agree, understanding the situation that is today, understanding that Russia will fight for its interests to the end, and, understanding this, actually return to common sense, start respecting our country, its interests and look for some solutions? We are ready for this dialogue.[14]

V. Putin

On February 13, S.O.S. Romania leader and pro-Kremlin MP Diana Șoșoacă shared an allegory on her Facebook page about wolves fighting, as an analogy about the current stage of the war between Russia and Ukraine: “When a wolf loses the fight against another wolf and realises that it no longer has a chance of winning, the losing wolf peacefully offers its jugular to the opponent, as if to say <<I have lost, let’s end it>>. […] An ancient force of a thousand years prevents him from killing the one who has the “humility” to admit defeat. […] No winner, no loser! Both wolves walk away, and the wheel of life continues. If humans were to learn the lesson from wolves instead of continuing to “slaughter” each other out of pride and thirst for power!”[15].

This parallel registers within the toxic pacifism narrative Șoșoacă has engaged in from the beginning of the full-scale invasion, which portrays President Volodymyr Zelensky and the government in Kyiv as responsible for the lives lost in the war, disregarding the wellbeing of Ukrainians and not surrendering to Putin’s demands out of supposed selfish interests. She also claimed in an interview with the far-right Facebook page “Mișcarea de Eliberare” (“Liberation Movement”) that “the war will end in Russia’s favour and negotiations will start![16], further attempting to convince her followers that the Ukrainian cause is doomed to fail, thus all efforts to counter Russia’s assault just translate into unnecessary losses of life – with Zelensky to be blamed for resisting and not Putin for attacking. 

At the same time, Șoșoacă’s calls for Romania’s so-called “neutrality” and a “peaceful solution” continue, and, in an interview for the Russia Today Balkan service, on February 26, she emphasised who she perceives to be the enemy of her party and why – “S.O.S. Romania is under a Deep State attack like never before because it is the only party that is not making compromises, that is guided by an uncompromising leader and that has requested, ever since the beginning of the conflict, neutrality and non-involvement for Romania […] Thus, the political battle of S.O.S. Romania is not against other parties in the country, that the population doesn’t care for anyway, but against the diktats of Brussels and Washington (including London) which conditions Romania to be a servant of Ukraine. […] I have risked my life, freedom, and reputation to prevent Romania from being thrown into war, and I will continue to do so. I have become public enemy number 1 in Romania because I want peace, and the fact that both I and S.O.S. Romania are attacked on the main television channels every day from morning until night indicates that war is imminent and therefore I must be annihilated along with the S.O.S. Romania party so that the Deep State can have a free hand to drag us into conflict.”[17]

Territorial revisionism

V. Putin: “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 (known today as Western Ukraine). So Romania and Hungary had some of their lands taken away and given to 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.[18]

Putin’s recurrent claim that “Ukraine is an artificial state”, created by Stalin with lands taken from Russia, Poland, Hungary and Romania, along with the brief mention of former Romanian territories now part of Ukraine, Bukovina primarily, were propagated within far-right groups in the immediate aftermath of the Carlson sit-down. Daniel Siegfriedsohn, a far-right “historical archivist”, shared a series of documents and maps to his 17.000 followers on Facebook in an effort to demonstrate and align with Putin’s revisionism, calling Ukraine “an enemy of the Romanian national ideal” which “currently occupies illegally [Romanian land]”[19].

On the same revisionist note, when Putin shared a personal anecdote about a trip he made in the 1980’s in Western Ukraine, where he stumbled upon a Hungarian-speaking community living in the town of Beregovo, Tucker Carlson made a subtle remark about Hungary’s connection to Transylvania – a controversial topic[20] for Romania, particularly for its far-right, ultranationalist, exponents. Carlson: “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.[21] As expected, this parallel did not receive the same attention from the Romanian far-right voices as the “artificial Ukraine” narrative.    

Russia is not a (physical) threat

V. Putin: “You don’t need to be some sort of analyst to know that this contradicts common sense – to get involved in some sort of global war. A global war would bring the whole of humanity to the brink of extinction. It is obvious.[22]

Another angle used by far-right/pro-Russian actors to minimise the danger posed by Russia to national security, focuses on the idea that Putin has no interest to attack Romania, and that if he wishes to control it, it will happen with or without our say; and without the need to use (physical) force. Thus, the only “smart” approach the country could adopt is to willfully cooperate with Russia, as opposing resistance is both futile and against its interests.

After praising the Russian president in a series of social media posts[23] shared after the interview, influencer and political commentator Dana Budeanu appeared on România TV, the leading news network in the country[24], to claim that “Putin will never attack Romania” and the main takeaway from his interview with Tucker Carlson is that “we need to discuss with everyone [all countries, i.e. Russia]”. Moreover, she emphasised that the warnings about a possible war with Russia are just “speculations made to scare the population”, as Putin is so powerful, that he does not need to invade a country in order to control it.

As for the situation in the neighbouring Ukraine, Budeanu stated that it is the result of an “agreement between all participants”[25], in line with the abovementioned narrative about Ukraine’s resistance pushed by other far-right actors.

Russian Embassy meeting

On February 8, 2024, the Russian Embassy in Bucharest hosted a reception in honour of the Russian Diplomat’s Day (which actually occurs on February 10th). According to the organisers it was attended by representatives from “the diplomatic corps, the Romanian Parliament, the business community, Romanian mass media, NGOs, as well as notable individuals from science and culture”. Ambassador Valery Kuzmin and Petru Ignatencu, President of the Association of Activists for Peace, Equality, and Social Progress “Scânteia,” were mentioned by name in the Embassy’s press release[26].

Other guests included far-right propagandist and frequent România TV collaborator Codruța Cerva (who shared a video from the event on her TikTok page[27]) and MP Mihai Lasca (former member of AUR, now leader of the Patriots of the Romanian Nation Party – PPR). Lasca posted on Facebook after the event, along with a picture of himself with Kuzmin, a text about Romania’s relationship with Russia and the significance of Putin’s interview with Tucker Carlson: “Romania is not in a conflict with the Russian Federation and it must not allow Western allies to provoke one. Romania needs to break free from the North Atlantic paralysis and resume diplomatic and economic relations with various partner states, including China and Russia […] Following the interview with President Vladimir Putin, the West seems to only now be awakening to the truth behind Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Romania should not commit suicide along with its alliance partners just because that’s what the shadow power desires. We have no eternal allies or permanent enemies, only perpetual interests.[28]

Photo credit:



[3]România TV host Victor Ciutacu, February 8, 2024 –








[11] The page has over 150.000 subscribers, mostly sharing fake news, conspiracy theories and extremist content.









[20] Transylvania is a subject of great interest for the Romanian far-right – historically part of the Hungarian Empire and currently populated by a significant number of ethnic Hungarians, the region is a constant target for nationalists, while the supposed plan of this ethnic minority to secede is a narrative used to stir the anti-Hungarian sentiment among Romanians.