Tucker Carlson’s interview last week with Vladimir Putin was in some ways as cringeworthy as many feared it would be.

Carlson lobbed questions to help the Russian president serve up his usual string of half-truths and outright falsehoods about the war in Ukraine, and then failed to challenge any of them. This was a gift for Putin, a safe platform from which to gaslight Americans into believing that they bear responsibility for his brutal invasion.

Yet for the vast majority of viewers who will be unfamiliar with the obsessions that drove Putin to go to war, Carlson also did a real public service. Asked why, when he invaded, he believed the U.S. was readying a surprise attack, Putin didn’t bother to answer. Instead, he gave a rambling lecture on Russia-Ukraine history, starting from 862 AD. Carlson kept asking why all this was relevant, but Putin was explaining that he invaded out of the apparently sincere belief that he’s retaking lands that rightfully belong to Russia.