There are no current EU talks about imposing sanctions on US talk show host Tucker Carlson, who is poised to air an interview with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, a spokesman said on Thursday in response to rumours amplified by technology billionaire Elon Musk.
“It’s not up to us to try to pre-empt or speculate whether someone will be proposed by a member state or group of member states to be put on the sanctions list,” Peter Stano, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, told reporters.
The established sanctions procedure was “confidential”, he added.
“I can say beyond this that currently there are no discussions in the relevant EU bodies linked to this specific person,” he said, when asked about the suggestion Carlson may be targeted.
European lawmaker Guy Verhofstadt on Monday tweeted that the EU “should explore a travel ban” against Carlson if he “enables disinformation” for the Russian president.
That appears to have led to online speculation that the EU was considering the move — to which Musk responded in a tweet to his 171 million followers, writing: “If true, this would be disturbing indeed.”
Stano recalled that the EU had until now sanctioned some 2,000 people and entities in connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago, including Russian media accused of spreading propaganda such as Sputnik and RT.
“We did it because of their continued track record of constantly accompanying the Russian military aggression with the information warfare,” Stano said.
He stressed that any addition to the EU’s sanctions list would need unanimous support from its 27 member states.
“Everything needs to be backed by enough evidence because everyone who is sanctioned by the EU has the right to appeal to the EU court,” Stano said.
Former Fox News host Carlson, a key ally of Donald Trump and vocal opponent of US military aid for Ukraine, travelled to Moscow for Putin’s first interview with a Western journalist since Russia’s February 2022 invasion.
Carlson has said the sit-down, which has already been recorded, would be broadcast at 2300 GMT Thursday on his website, and posted to X, formerly Twitter.
“We can all assume what Putin might be saying,” said Stano. “This is a chronic liar who is just spreading lies about his illegal operation against the Ukrainian people.”