Russian President Vladimir Putin told Tucker Carlson that he asked then-U.S. President Bill Clinton if Russia could join NATO shortly after he took power in 1999. According to Putin, Clinton seemed receptive to the idea before shooting it down after conferring with his administration.
“At a meeting here in the Kremlin with the outgoing President Bill Clinton, right here in the next room, I said to him, I asked him, ‘Bill, do you think if Russia asked to join NATO, do you think it would happen?’” Putin said while speaking in the Russian presidential palace. “Suddenly he said, you know, ‘I’ve talked to my team. No, no, it’s not possible now.’ You can ask him. I think he will watch our interview. He’ll confirm it. I wouldn’t have said anything like that if it hadn’t happened.”
When asked if he was sincere in asking to join the alliance, Putin said, “if he had said yes, the process of rapprochement would have commenced.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Putin suggested that the United States was behind the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline in September 2022. The pipeline — which was built to transport natural gas between Germany and Russia — was mysteriously sabotaged as Europe was reeling from energy shortages as a result of sanctions against Russia.
“Did you have evidence that NATO or CIA did it?” Carlson asked. “You know, I won’t get into details, but people always say in such cases, look for someone who is interested. But in this case, we should not only look for someone who is interested, but also for someone who has capabilities, because there may be many people interested but not all of them are capable of sinking to the bottom of the Baltic Sea and carrying out this explosion. These two components should be connected,” Putin answered.