This is worrisome. Or at the very least, Princeton professor of Russian studies Stephen Cohen is worried
- and when it's come to Russia, I've generally found that Stephen Cohen is very often right.
Russia Insider wrote:The key points of Cohen's extraordinary speech:
- The possibility of premeditated war with Russia is real; this was never a possibility during Soviet times.
- This problem did not begin in November 2013 or in 2008, this problem began in 1990's when the Clinton administration adopted a "winner-takes-all" policy towards post-Soviet Russia.
- Next to NATO expansion, the US adopted a form of a negotiation policy called "selective cooperation" - Russia gives, the US takes.
- There is not a single example of any major concession or reciprocal agreement that the US offered Russia in return for what it has received since the 90s.
- This policy has been pursued by every president and every US Congress, from President Clinton to President Obama.
- The US is entitled to a global sphere of influence, but Russia is not entitled to any sphere of influence at all, not even in Georgia or Ukraine.
- For 20 years Russia was excluded from the European security system. NATO expansion was a pivot of this security system and it was directed against Russia.
- Putin started as a pro-Western leader, he wanted partnership with the US, provided helping hand after 9/11 and saved many American lives in Afghanistan.
- In return he got more NATO expansion and unilateral abolition of the existing missile treaty on which all Russian security was based.
- Putin is not an autocrat, he's maybe very authoritarian as an ultimate decider, but he is answerable to other power groups.
- Putin is not anti-Western, or as Khodorkovsky said, he is more European than 99 percent of Russians. He has become less pro-Western and particularly less pro-American.
- Since November 2013, Putin has became not aggressive but reactive. For this he has been criticized in circles in Moscow as an appeaser (that is, soft, not tough enough).
- We (opposing academics) don't have effective political support in the administration, the Congress, political parties, think tanks or on university campuses. This is unprecedented situation in American politics. There's no discourse, no debate and this is failure of American democracy.
- There is ongoing extraordinary irrational and nonfactual demonisation of Putin. No Soviet leader was so personally vilified as Putin is now.
- The solution is federation to unite Ukraine without Crimea, which is not coming back, free trade with both the West and Russia and no NATO membership for Ukraine.
- This guarantees must be in writing, not oral premises like they gave to Gorbachev, and must be ratified by the UN.
- The Kiev regime is not a democratic one, but an ultra-nationalistic one. Poroshenko is a diminishing president.
- Unless the Kiev regime changes its approach to Russia or unless the West stops supporting Kiev unconditionally, we are drifting towards war with Russia.
In addition, my friend Paul Grenier has written up for Johnson's Russia List an incredibly valuable primer
on the surprisingly pro-Western sources of Putin's guiding ideology, which is by no means 'neo-Soviet' or anything close. I've actually read Vladimir Solovyov's The Justification of the Good
and a number of Berdyaev's works. Berdyaev is essentially an anarchist; and even though Solovyov's not a straightforward liberal, he's very German in his influences (the Kantian impression definitely shows) and thus is incredibly sympathetic to Western Europe where he touches on it. He's certainly no nationalist, obscurantist or apologist for autocracy - if Putin is any of those, it would have been strange indeed for him to have assigned his governors thinkers as humane as Berdyaev or Solovyov as required reading.