Photo illustration by John Lyman



My Interview with Putin

After many weeks of back and forth between Putin’s staff and mine, I was finally able to conduct a four-hour interview with the President of Russia, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. I asked Putin a number of questions about the war in Ukraine. For the most part, he was cooperative and answered my questions without too much antagonism. This interview was conducted through an interpreter and has been condensed and edited for brevity and clarity.

David DeBatto: Thank you for meeting with me, Mr. President. I wish I could say that it’s an honor, but of course, I can’t. You are a brutal dictator that is waging an illegal and genocidal war on an innocent and sovereign nation, so let’s just leave it at that and begin.

Vladimir Putin: No worries. I understand.

David: Great. So, my first question is this: Why did you choose this particular time to invade Ukraine, and what is your overall goal in doing so?

Vladimir: As I have said many times, this is an existential battle for the survival of Mother Russia itself. The gay, drug-addicted Jewish Nazi leaders in Kyiv were preparing to invade our country and use chemical and maybe even nuclear weapons they have been preparing in their secret NATO-sponsored laboratories. They were also torturing and killing all of the Russian-speaking people in the Donbas, including cute, little, teenie, weenie babies. I could not allow that to continue.

David: Mr. President, that is all a great big lie meant solely to justify the invasion to yourself and the Russian population, and you know that very well.

Vladimir: Well, yes, actually you’re right. You’ve got me there 🙂

David: So why are you telling me this BS again now?

Vladimir: Look, I had to at least give it a shot, didn’t I? Who knows, if you are like most Western journalists you might have done a “false equivalency” thing or “telling both sides” kind of story based on this interview, and I’d come out seeming justified in my actions and looking pretty good. It was worth a try, no?

David: I know what you mean. OK, now that’s out of the way, how about you answer my question honestly?

Putin: Sure. By the way, I respect a forceful kind of a man like you who doesn’t take any shit from someone like me. The West could use more people like you.

David: Thanks. Now, let’s please get back to my question Mr. President.

Vladimir: Da, da, da. So, as I’m sure you know, the Russian economy is in the toilet, largely due to my policies of unrestricted corruption by myself and all those who suck up to me. You may not be aware that every corporate CEO, oligarch, factory manager, piss-ant politician, and all the heads of the military, police, and intelligence agencies have their positions solely due to kissing my ass. Were you aware of that?

David: Yes, Mr. President, I was aware of that. Please, go on with your answer.

Vladimir: So, I could not exactly tell the Russian people that I was going to launch a major war with a brother Slavic nation for absolutely no reason, which is after all, what I did, da? So, I had to come up with a really good lie to make them not only believe my bullshit story, but to actually support it 100% and want nothing better than to kill every last Ukrainian man, woman, and child. To wipe Ukraine off the map!

So I told them that the gay, drug-addicted, NATO-loving, anti-Christ, Jewish, Nazi Ukrainians were going to launch an all-out war on Russia backed by NATO and the EU at any minute. Maybe even tomorrow! I made Russian women believe that their very lives, and the lives of their children, and the lives of their husband’s mistresses and her children, also depended on Russia slaughtering all Ukrainians no matter their age, disability, whether living or dead, animal or human. No mercy! They must all be exterminated!

David: How very Stalin-ish of you.

Vladimir: Da! That is exactly what I thought too! I knew that I must make the average Russian person, you know, the useful idiots, become both enraged at the Ukrainian people and bring back the nostalgia of the good old days of the Soviet Union. You know, the days under Stalin when we didn’t mess around with killing dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of those Dubs and Khokhols, but starved them to death by the millions! Those were the days! But we’re not quite there yet. You have to work up to those kind of things, you know?

David: Yes, I’m sure you do. Alright, so you told a whole bunch of BS to your country in order to get them all worked up and supportive of a war that they otherwise would have hated and possibly thrown you into the basement of Lubyanka if they knew the truth. So what was your war strategy going in? What was your plan?

Vladimir: Plan? What plan? My plan was to win! I didn’t need a plan. Plans are for losers and generals, not me. I can see into the future, did you know that? And the future told me that I just have to get my very modern and obscenely expensive army together in one place, lie to them about only being on a simple military training exercise for a few weeks, then order them to head into Ukraine, seize that gay Jew, Nazi, Zelenskyy, and arrange a nice photo op for me at the Eifel Tower afterward.

David: Mr. President, I think you are confusing Hitler’s entrance into Paris in 1940 with modern-day Kyiv.

Vladimir: Really? Da, maybe. It’s possible. I don’t think as clearly as I used to. I took quite a shot to the head with a hockey puck from one of those drunk Ruski hockey players when I did one of those phony photo ops in Sochi in 2014. I never could stay on ice skates worth a damn, but they photoshopped it like they did with me hugging a bear, riding a tiger, and kicking ass at judo. All bullshit, but the people like it. Where were we?

David: Your plan for the war in Ukraine.

Vladimir: War in Ukraine? There’s a war in Ukraine? With Russia? I thought it was only a Special Military Operation. That’s what that sour puss Lavrov keeps telling me.

David: No, I’m afraid it’s a full-blown war Mr. President, and more than 30,000 Russian troops have been killed, more than 1,000 tanks have been destroyed, over 200 MIGS and helicopters shot down, and the flagship of your Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, has been sunk by the Ukrainian military.

Vladimir: Really?

David: I’m afraid so.

Vladimir: Боже мой! 😯

David: I agree. That’s not good news.

Vladimir: I had no idea. I was told our boys were greeted by flowers and kisses by those hot-looking Ukrainian girls and their mothers. That’s not true?

David: No Mr. President, that’s not true. In fact, women, old men, and even babushkas met your forces with curses, spit, and Molotov cocktails. Your attempts to seize Kyiv failed miserably, resulting in a humiliating retreat that cost the lives of thousands of Russian soldiers, numerous aircraft, up to ten generals, and the destruction of hundreds of tanks, artillery pieces, and support vehicles of all kinds. In short, it was a disaster of catastrophic proportions, the likes of which have only rarely been seen in modern military history.

Vladimir: (Hands shaking uncontrollably).

David: Are you alright Mr. President?

Vladimir: (Putin is now biting his lower lip, which is starting to bleed, his right foot is moving side to side awkwardly, and he is staring off into space, unresponsive).

David: Mr. President? Mr. President?

Vladimir: (At this point Putin appears to be in a catatonic state and is totally unresponsive. His head slowly slumps forward until his face is lying flat on the table in front of him. His hands and feet continue to move uncontrollably. I can hear him mumbling incoherently).

It seems that I have no choice but to terminate the interview. I get the attention of the sleeping FSB agent to my left to attempt to revive Putin and see if he is still alive. The mumbling has stopped. Not wanting to discover Putin’s life or death status while I am still in the same room with him, I slowly gather my iPad and walk out of the room to my FSB handler waiting outside the door. His head is down, reading some texts on VKontakte and chuckling to himself. He is apparently watching some Western porn a friend sent to him using a VPN to get around Russian government restrictions. I gently shake him alert and tell him that the interview is finished and I’m ready to return to my hotel. I further advise him that his boss is sleeping (or something). I add that I may return tomorrow to follow up.


So now I am sitting in my hotel room at the Moscow Marriott overlooking new Arbat Street, picking at my excellent dish of Black Sea caviar and sipping sparkling water from Siberia. I will see if the Kremlin wants to have me back tomorrow to continue my interview with their unstable Czar, or if he is still feeling a little too under the weather. In that case, I’ll probably just take a nice stroll along the Moscow River and then hit Gorky Park for a while before catching a Yandex cab over to Sheremetyevo Airport for my flight home.

До свидания, товарищи!