In his first public comments on the conflict, Mr. Putin, who was president when TNK-BP was formed in 2003, said in an interview with France’s Le Monde released by his office Saturday that he had warned both sides at that time that the 50-50 structure would be problematic. “You shouldn’t do this,” he said he told them. “Work it out between yourselves so someone has a controlling stake….There needs to be a boss,” he said, noting that he said the Kremlin would have accepted either BP or its Russian partners as the controlling shareholder. “You see the result: There’s always friction over who’s in charge,” Mr. Putin said. BP declined to comment on the interview. The Russian shareholders couldn’t be reached over the weekend.