President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia will “soon” sit for an interview with Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host said on Tuesday, a sign that the Russian leader is seeking to make a direct appeal to American conservatives as U.S. aid to Ukraine hangs in the balance.
“We’re here to interview the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin,” Mr. Carlson said in a video apparently shot from a high-rise in central Moscow and posted to the social network X. “We’ll be doing that soon.”
The Kremlin did not immediately confirm that the interview would take place, and has declined to comment on the possibility when asked by journalists in recent days. Mr. Carlson has been in Moscow for several days, according to Russian state media, which has delivered a blow-by-blow account of his visit, raising anticipation of a potential interview by Mr. Carlson of Mr. Putin.
Mr. Carlson, whose show appears on X, did not specify the timing of any upcoming interview. It would be Mr. Putin’s first formal interview with a Western media figure since the start of his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and his first with an American outlet since he spoke with CNBC in 2021.
Mr. Putin’s government has drastically reduced the ability of Western journalists to cover Russia, and has imprisoned a Wall Street Journal correspondent, Evan Gershkovich, for more than 10 months on espionage charges that he, his employer and the United States government vehemently deny. The Kremlin has referred to Western countries as having been “stupefied” by anti-Russian propaganda.
The interview would come at a critical time for the war in Ukraine, with American aid to Kyiv stalled in Congress. A vote in the Senate on an aid package on Wednesday is almost certain to fail after an increasing number of Republicans said they would not support it.
In speaking with Mr. Carlson, Mr. Putin would likely be seeking to seize a unique opportunity: a chance to reach a potentially sympathetic audience in the United States.
Mr. Carlson, like the Republican presidential front-runner, Donald J. Trump, is skeptical of further American support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion, and has embraced Mr. Putin’s efforts to position himself as a global standard-bearer for “traditional values,” like opposing L.G.B.T. rights.
Mr. Putin’s calculus, in good part, appears tied to the war in Ukraine. The interview could inflame political divisions over Ukraine inside the United States, especially if Mr. Putin signals that he is open to a negotiated end to the war.
An interview at the Kremlin could be mutually beneficial for Mr. Carlson and Mr. Putin. Mr. Carlson lost the most prominent platform in conservative media when he was pushed from Fox’s lineup last year, while Mr. Putin lost the most prominent promoter of his anti-Ukraine talking points in the United States.
Mr. Carlson’s arrival in Moscow, and speculation that he was there to interview Mr. Putin, drew a mix of condemnation and praise from prominent X users.
“He is a traitor,” former Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican of Illinois, wrote in a message, referring to Mr. Carlson. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Trump-aligned Republican congresswoman from Georgia, lauded the news, saying: “Democrats and their propagandists are spasming at the prospect of Tucker Carlson interviewing Putin.”
Mr. Carlson said in his video that the interview would be posted on X — formerly known as Twitter — and that the social network’s owner, the billionaire Elon Musk, had promised “not to suppress or block this interview.”
That may not be the case, however, for the Russian government, which has restricted access to Twitter starting in March 2022, claiming the platform was hosting false information about the war in Ukraine.
In promoting the expected interview, Mr. Carlson falsely asserted that he was alone among Western media figures in trying to interview Mr. Putin. “Does Tucker really think we journalists haven’t been trying to interview President Putin every day since his full scale invasion of Ukraine?” wrote the CNN and PBS journalist Christiane Amanpour on X, adding that Mr. Carlson’s claim was “absurd.”
While Mr. Carlson continues to provide Kremlin media with pro-Putin commentary for consumption in Russia, he has become a diminished figure in the United States since leaving Fox News, where he averaged an audience of more than 3 million a night.
Western officials and Russians close to the Kremlin have said in recent months that with Russia retaking the initiative on the battlefield and further American aid for Ukraine stalled in Congress, Mr. Putin appears to see an opening for negotiations that could play into his hands. But many supporters of Ukraine say that seeking a deal with Mr. Putin now would amount to a capitulation, because it would almost certainly require Ukraine to relinquish the roughly one-fifth of Ukraine that Russia now controls.
In breathless coverage of Mr. Carlson’s movements around Moscow in recent days, Russia’s pro-Kremlin media appeared to be working to build up chatter about a possible Putin interview. On television and online, Russian state media has treated Mr. Carlson as a visiting celebrity, offering a stream of photos and videos of his various stops — arriving at the airport, dining at a restaurant and taking in the “Spartacus” ballet at the Bolshoi Theater.