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What did we learn from Putin’s interview? 

Welcome to Friday’s Early Edition from i.

It began awkwardly. Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson gave a high-pitched laugh as Vladimir Putin’s first response to him was: “Are we having a talk show or a serious conversation?” A lecture began. “Your basic education is in history as far as I understand,” the Russian leader said to Carlson, who nodded. “So if you don’t mind,” he continued, “I will take only 30 seconds or one minute to give you a short reference to history.” Putin then descended into a 30-minute meandering monologue of Russia’s past, beginning in the year 862 and referencing figures such as Genghis Khan, then making his way through the Middle Ages before coming to modern times, where he asserted that “Ukraine is an artificial state that was shaped at Stalin’s will”. At one point Mr Carlson said: “I’m losing track of where in history we are,” a statement that may have resonated with many viewers. The 127-minute interview, conducted in Moscow, is the first that Putin has given to an American journalist since the invasion of Ukraine. But this was one with serious controversy. Mr Carlson, a Trump supporter and frequent critic of US support for Ukraine, attracted valid criticism for his framing of the interview, with even the Kremlin setting him straight on some of his claims. But did we learn anything? We’ll take a look, after the headlines.

 Today’s news, and why it matters

The UK’s leading children’s charity has revealed insight into mental health services for young people, with patients as young as 11 calling helplines after being sectioned. An NPSCC report, shared with i, has revealed an 18 per cent increase in children calling Childline after being sectioned or hospitalised for mental health in 2022-23, compared with the previous year.

Sir Keir Starmer has been warned Labour faces a “full blown crisis” with support among Muslim voters in a “complete nosedive” due to his stance on Gaza. The chair of the Labour Muslim Network said people of the faith no longer feel safe in the party and urged the leadership to reverse a perception that it “may not care for us”.

Fraudulent tenancy applications have quadrupled in the past two years at a major rental reference agency, as expensive rents and competition in the property market pushed those who would never normally consider fraud towards lying about their financial situation. In the last two years, Homelet, which provides tenant and landlord insurance, said that it had flagged 133,000 suspicious tenancy applications, which equates to close to 200 a day.

The Post Office has admitted it is “concerned” by claims that it wrongly prosecuted former sub-postmasters because of a second faulty IT system. It follows weeks of reporting by i highlighting claims surrounding cases which pre-date the Horizon scandal.

Sewage discharges off Whitstable on the Kent coast have caused “debilitating” health issues for local swimmers. Cathy Bradley, 67, told i she moved to the town to swim in the sea and improve her mental and physical health.

The Queen said the King as doing “extremely well under the circumstances” following his cancer diagnosis. Camilla said her husband, who has undergone his first bout of cancer treatment earlier this week, was “very touched” by all the messages of support he has been receiving from the public.

Five takeaways from Putin’s interview with Tucker Carlson:

‘Don’t take anything at face value’: That was the sage advice of White House national security spokesman John Kirby. Before the interview was aired he said: “Remember, you’re listening to Vladimir Putin. And you shouldn’t take at face value anything he has to say.” Tucker Carlson also framed the interview, prior to its release, as a counter to “propaganda” and falsely claimed that other Western journalists had not tried to interview the Russian leader. Not only did journalists including the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour make clear they had sent repeated requests, which have been ignored, but the Kremlin also set Mr Carlson straight. Its press secretary said: “Mr Carlson is not correct, and he couldn’t have known that. We receive a lot of requests for interviews with the president.” A CNN analysis after the interview noted: “Instead of pressing Putin on the many topics at hand, including credible accusations Russia has committed war crimes and the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Carlson allowed the autocrat a free lane to manipulate the public and tell his version of history, no matter how deceptive it may have been. Carlson provided Putin a platform to spread his propaganda to a global audience with little to no scrutiny of his claims.”

Claims he wants no ‘wider war’: Vladimir Putin said Moscow had no interest in invading “Poland, Latvia or anywhere else”. He said he could imagine only one scenario in which he would send Russian troops to Poland – if Warsaw attacks Russia. He said: “Why? Because we have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else. Why would we do that? We simply don’t have any interest.” He also argued that Ukraine should sit down for negotiations. “We have never refused negotiations,” Putin said. “You should tell the current Ukrainian leadership to stop and come to a negotiating table.” He also said of the US: “Wouldn’t it be better to negotiate with Russia? Make an agreement. Already understanding the situation that is developing today, realising that Russia will fight for its interests to the end”. Janis Kluge, a Russia expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, wrote: “The main points Putin is trying to get across, as expected: There was already an agreement in March 2022, but then Ukraine turned it down. The US and Germany should just stop arms deliveries, save billions of dollars, and the war will be over in a few weeks.”

A possible glimmer of hope for imprisoned US journalist: Towards the end of the interview, Tucker Carlson raised the case of Evan Gershkovich, who awaits trial on espionage charges, which he denies. Carlson asked the Russian leader if he “would be willing to release him to us and we’ll bring him back to the United States”. Putin insisted the Wall Street Journal reporter had been caught “red-handed”. But he also said: “There is no taboo to settle this issue. We are willing to solve it but there are certain terms being discussed via special services channels. I believe an agreement can be reached. At the end of the day, it does not make any sense to keep him in prison in Russia.” Putin implied that he wants hitman Vadim Krasikov, jailed in Germany for the 2019 daylight murder of a Chechen man in exchange. “That person, due to patriotic sentiments, eliminated a bandit in one of the European capitals,” Putin said. In response to the comments on Gershkovish, the Wall Street Journal reaffirmed he “is a journalist, and journalism is not a crime,” adding that “any portrayal to the contrary is total fiction.” It continued: “We’re encouraged to see Russia’s desire for a deal that brings Evan home, and we hope this will lead to his rapid release and return to his family and our newsroom,” it said. Last year, Russia was one of the world’s top five jailers of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, with 22 reporters in prison. Read more here.

His views on Elon Musk: Putin said of the X, Tesla and Space X owner: “I think there’s no stopping Elon Musk. He will do as he sees fit. Nevertheless, you’ll need to find some common ground with him. Search for ways to persuade him. I think he’s a smart person. I truly believe he is. So you’ll need to reach an agreement with him because this process needs to be formalised and subjected to certain rules. Humanity has to consider what is going to happen due to the newest development in genetics or in AI? One can make an approximate prediction of what will happen.”

A ‘useful’ idiot and a false narrative: The BBC writes that the Kremlin will be hoping to make Republican politicians “susceptible to Moscow’s narratives usually only parroted within domestic Russian media. Mr Carlson has also had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who has expressed scepticism about supporting Ukraine.” Janis Kluge, a Russia expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, tweeted prior to the interview: “Carlson is smart and his agenda is clear. He and Putin will work together brilliantly to reinforce the false narrative about Ukraine, weaken Biden, and strengthen Trump.” But after watching it he concluded: “I overestimated Tucker Carlson. He really does look incredibly naive at many points in the conversation. Putin runs circles around him and gives lectures that are mostly really, really boring. Overall, I think it was a missed opportunity for both of them, thankfully.” Hillary Clinton, who lost the presidential election to Trump in 2016, also said: “He [Carlson] is what’s called a useful idiot. I mean, if you actually read translations of what’s being said on Russian media, they make fun of them. He’s like a puppy dog. He parrots Vladimir Putin’s pack of lies about Ukraine. So I don’t see why Putin wouldn’t give him an interview… having been fired from so many outlets in the United States, I would not be surprised if he emerges with a contract with a Russian outlet.” Read Michael Day’s analysis here.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with Tucker Carlson
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with Tucker Carlson in Moscow, Russia (Photo: Courtesy of Tucker Carlson Network/Handout via Reuters)

 Around the world

President Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces General Valeriy Zaluzhny in a long-trailed move on Thursday night. General Zaluzhny – affectionately known as the “Iron General” – has been replaced by Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who was previously in command of Ukraine’s ground forces.

A suspected Iranian spy ship is sheltering near a Chinese-owned port off the coast of the African nation of Djibouti, amid calls for the US to strike it. The Behshad is suspected to be supplying information for Yemen’s Houthi rebels to use when targeting international shipping in the Red Sea.

Brexit has exacerbated other splits in British society like class, the North-South divide and nationalism in Scotland and Ireland, a new book claims. An Island Adrift, which was published in Spain this week, looks at the rise and fall of Boris Johnson, Britain’s torturous exit from Europe and the pandemic through the eyes of a foreign journalist.

 Watch out for…

 the latest stage of phone-hacking claims featuring the publisher of the Daily Mirror and the Duke of Sussex, which is due to take place at the High Court. 

 Thoughts for the day

Rishi Sunak’s trans jibe is a turning point. In remembering Brianna, we can remember who we are, and the moment that changed us, says Patrick Strudwick.

I’m a climate scientist – Labour’s green U-turn has left me hopeless. Keir Starmer should think long and hard about the consequences, writes Bill McGuire.

How to make the Tories popular. Popularity in politics is much like happiness: not something you can simply achieve, but a by-product of other actions, explains Sebastian Payne.

Former prime minister Liz Truss speaks at the official launch event for the Popular Conservatism movement (Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters)

Culture Break

Jeffrey Wright: ‘I find it odd when people call me a Black actor’. The star of ‘American Fiction’ talks to Dorian Lynskey about the first Oscar nomination of his career, white liberal panic, and Elon Musk.

Jeffrey Wright is up for a Best Actor at the Oscars for his role in ‘American Fiction’ (Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty/Vanity Fair)

The Big Read

24 hours as a hospital paediatrician: unvaccinated children, rotten teeth and diabetes. Dr Helen Stewart details a day in A&E, and the urgent health problems facing Britain’s young.

Dr Helen Stewart has been a paediatrician for 20 years


Snus: The dangers of football’s hidden drug problem. Inside English football’s relationship with a moist tobacco product that left Gary Lineker ‘writhing on the floor like a snake covered in vomit’.

Gary Lineker and Jamie Vardy have both opened up about their use of snus (Photos: Getty)

Something to brighten your day

The six signs your relationship is one that will last. Dr Sara Nasserzadeh has dedicated her career to researching what makes certain couples stand the test of time. This is what she found.

Dr Nasserzadeh: ‘You would be surprised by how many long-term couples forget to afford the same compassion they so easily give to a friend or child to their partner’ (Photo: artbesouro/Getty/iStockphoto)

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