Stephen F. Cohen

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Stephen F. Cohen (November 25, 1938 – September 18, 2020) was an American scholar and professor emeritus of Russian studies at  Princeton University  and New York University. His academic work concentrated on modern Russian history and Russia's relationship with the United States.  


  • Fascist or neo-Nazi revivalism is underway today in many countries, from Europe to the United States, but the Ukrainian version is of special importance and a particular danger. A large, growing, well-armed fascist movement has reappeared in a large European country that is the political epicenter of the new Cold War between the United States and Russia—indeed a movement that not so much denies the Holocaust as glorifies it.

New Cold War? Ukraine Violence Escalates, Leaked Tape Suggests U.S. Was Plotting Coup, DemocracyNow! Feb 20, 2014[edit]

(Transcript & video)

  • We are watching history being made, but history of the worst kind... Ukraine is splitting apart down the middle, because Ukraine is not one country, contrary to what the American media, which speaks about the Ukraine and the Ukrainian people...Historically, ethnically, religiously, culturally, politically, economically, it’s two countries. One half wants to stay close to Russia; the other wants to go West.
  • ...The Western authorities, who bear some responsibility for what’s happened, and who therefore also have blood on their hands, are taking no responsibility. They’re uttering utterly banal statements, which, because of their vacuous nature, are encouraging and rationalizing the people in Ukraine who are throwing Molotov cocktails, now have weapons, are shooting at police.
  • Since the Clinton administration in the 1990s, the U.S.-led West has been on a steady march toward post-Soviet Russia, began with the expansion of NATO in the 1990s under Clinton. ...Then came the decision to build missile defense installations along Russia’s borders, allegedly against Iran, a country which has neither nuclear weapons nor any missiles to deliver them with.... now the West is at the gates of Ukraine. So, that’s the picture as Moscow sees it. And it’s rational. It’s reasonable. It’s hard to deny.
  • The Russians are saying, “Look, you’re trying to depose Yanukovych, who’s the elected government.” Think. If you overthrow—and, by the way, there’s a presidential election in a year.
    The Russians are saying wait 'til the next election. If you overthrow him—and that's what Washington and Brussels are saying, that he must go—what are you doing to the possibility of democracy not only in Ukraine, but throughout this part of the world? And secondly, who do you think is going to come to power? Please tell us. And we’re silent.
  • The highest-ranking State Department official, who presumably represents the Obama administration, and the American ambassador in Kiev are, to put it in blunt terms, plotting a coup d’état against the elected president of Ukraine.
  • Should—we, American citizens, should be allowed to choose which policy we want? But they conceal it from us. And I’m extremely angry that the people in this country who say they deplore this sort of thing have fallen silent.
  • Notice the intimacy with which the Americans deal with the two leading so-called “moderate”—and these are big shots, they both want to be president—Ukrainian opposition.... Tyagnybok, that they say has got to play a role, he’s the leader of the Freedom Party, the Svoboda Party, but a large element of that party, to put it candidly, is quasi-fascist.... This is the guy... that Senator John McCain in November or December went to Kiev and embraced. Either McCain didn’t know who he was, or he didn’t care.
  • The United States is prepared to embrace that guy, too—anything to get rid of Yanukovych, because they think this is about Putin. That’s all they really got on their mind.
  • We’re not going to be told, just like we’re not being told what’s going on in these private conversations about deposing the president of Ukraine. ...and if the Russians leak them, it doesn’t count. Is that right?
  • You know what they said. They said—they said, when this got leaked, that this is a low point in statecraft. After Snowden? After Snowden? I mean, what did Tennessee Williams used to say? Mendacity? Mendacity? The mendacity of it all? Don’t they trust us, our government, to tell us a little bit of the truth at last?

Ukrainegate impeachment saga worsens US-Russia Cold War (November 2019)[edit]

(Full text)

  • Well, the first thing to remember is, is that President Obama was under enormous pressure to send military equipment to Ukraine/And why did he refuse? Well, I’m not sure what his calculation was, but the, the wisdom of not sending is clear... 
  • First of all, what everybody must want is peace between Russia and Ukraine...
  • Why would you tempt one or another Ukrainian leadership to broaden the war, where you want above all to bring peace? 
  • The chance for Zelensky, the new president who had this very large victory, 70 plus percent to negotiate with Russia an end to that war, it’s got to be seized. And it requires the United States, basically, simply saying to Zelensky, 'Go for it, we’ve got your back.'
  • This is an opportunity for Trump to do the right thing and do it clean, to say to Zelensky, I support this negotiation with Putin. I hope that you and Putin can settle your conflicts.
  • In four, maybe more decades of... studying Russian-American relations, I never really took seriously the possibility of war between the United States and Russia...
  • Today I think it’s a very high probability, partly because of this Russiagate nonsense, partly because the lack of American leadership
  • What Putin came to power to do was to modernize Russia, and that does not involve a cold war with the West. Period. End of story. That’s his mission. He wants to go down in history as the man who did this. Cold war, not to mention hot war, is spoiling what he sees as his mission.
  • There’s a golden moment now to be had for everybody’s security, and it’s been thwarted by this mindless… I mean, you can hate on Trump all you want, but there’s got to be a higher priority and that’s got to be international American security, and we’re letting that opportunity slip away, I fear. 


War With Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate (2019)[edit]

  • When Putin began talking about Russia’s sovereignty, Russia’s independent course in world affairs, they’re (the Washington elites) aghast... This is not what they expected... Putin was kind of the right person for the right time, both for Russia and for Russian world affairs.
  • The people who created Russiagate are literally saying, and have been for almost three years, that the president of the United States is a Russian agent, or he has been compromised by the Kremlin.
  • I don’t know if there has ever been anything like this in American history... That accusation does such damage to our own institutions, to the presidency, to our electoral system, to Congress, to the American mainstream media, not to mention the damage it’s done to American-Russian relations, the damage it has done to the way Russians, both elite Russians and young Russians, look at America today. This whole Russiagate has not only been fraudulent, it’s been a catastrophe.
  • There were three major episodes of détente in the 20th century... The first was after Stalin died, when the Cold War was very dangerous. That was carried out by Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican president. The second was by Richard Nixon, advised by Henry Kissinger—it was called ‘the Nixon détente with Brezhnev.’ The third, and we thought most successful, was Ronald Reagan with Mikhail Gorbachev. It was such a successful détente Reagan and Gorbachev, and Reagan’s successor, the first Bush, said the Cold War was over forever.
  • Who is behind all this? ...I don’t have the evidence. But all the surface information suggests that this originated with Brennan and the CIA.
  • If our intelligence services are way off the reservation, to the point that they can try to first destroy a presidential candidate and then a president, and I don’t care that it’s Trump, it may be Harry Smith next time, or a woman; if they can do this, we need to know it.
  • Now is the time for a serious, new arms control agreement. What do we get? Russiagate. Russiagate is one of the greatest threats to national security. I have five listed in the book. Russia and China aren’t on there. Russiagate is number one.

Manufacturing War With Russia (June 3, 2019)[edit]

Chris Hedges quoting Cohen in his review of Cohen's book War With Russia?

  • They told Gorbachev, ‘We promise if you agree to a reunited Germany in NATO, NATO will not move—this was Secretary of State James Baker—one inch to the east. In other words, NATO would not move from Germany toward Russia. And it did.
  • As we speak today, NATO is on Russia’s borders... From the Baltics to Ukraine to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. So, what happened? Later, they said Gorbachev lied or he misunderstood. [That] the promise was never made. But the National Security Archive in Washington has produced all the documents of the discussion in 1990. It was not only [President George H.W.] Bush, it was the French leader François Mitterrand, it was Margaret Thatcher of England. Every Western leader promised Gorbachev NATO would not move eastward.
  • The ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty), by prohibiting wide deployment of anti-missile defense installments... had long guaranteed equal security based on the underlying principles of MAD {Mutual Assured Destruction] and parity. Bush’s abolition of the treaty in effect nullified those principles and signified Washington’s quest for nuclear superiority over Russia...
  • Putin went to Texas. He had a barbecue with Bush, second Bush. Bush said he ‘looked into his eyes and saw a good soul.’ There was this honeymoon. Why did they turn against Putin?
  • You have to ask yourself, why is it that Washington had no problem doing productive diplomacy with Soviet communist leaders... Why do we like communist leaders in Russia better than we like Russia’s anti-communist leader? It’s a riddle.
  • If you’re trying to explain how the Washington establishment has dealt with Putin in a hateful and demonizing way, you have to go back to the 1990s before Putin...
  • Trump comes out of nowhere in 2016 and says, ‘I think we should cooperate with Russia,’...This is a statement of détente...It’s then that this talk of Trump being an agent of the Kremlin begins.
  • What do you end up with today? Betrayal. Any kind of discussion about Russian-American relations today, an informed Russian is going to say, ‘We worry you will betray us again.’… Putin said he had illusions about the West when he came to power.

Quotes about Cohen[edit]

  • An academic with generally progressive beliefs married to Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor-in-chief of the left-leaning Nation, he has a view of events in Ukraine that urges Americans to understand Putin's point of view.
  • In his article "Distorting Russia," Cohen wrote that American "demonization" of Putin in news coverage amounts to "toxic" "media malpractice" that verges on the alarmist language of the Cold War..
  • Cohen has been widely derided as a Putin apologist. Yet former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, of all people, has backed him up. Cohen says he is the real American patriot and those who are pressing President Barack Obama and the European Union to counter the Russians in Crimea are a danger to our national security.

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