Stephen F. Cohen – The US is rejecting Putin’s proposal to cooperate against the terrorist Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, while escalating NATO’s “exercises” against Russia in Eastern Europe.
Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussion of the new US-Russian Cold War. Cohen points out that instead of cooperating with Moscow’s air war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Obama Administration is threatening to send US planes and possibly troops to counter the Russian military operation there, while also stepping up NATO ground, air and sea exercises in areas on Russia’s own borders. The dangers inherent in such “exercises” were documented in a November 10 New York Times article recounting how such NATO maneuvers in 1983, in similarly fraught political circumstances, led the Soviet Russian leadership to fear an impending US nuclear attack and to put its own nuclear forces on high alert, replicating the high noon moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis twenty years before.
Meanwhile, on the second anniversary of the US-Russian confrontation over Ukraine, which began in November 2013, the crisis of the American-backed government in Kiev continues to deepen economically and political. In recent local elections, President Poroshenko’s coalition seems to have won barely 20 percent of the vote while ultra-nationalist parties made gains in Western and Central Ukraine, and perhaps even in Kiev itself.
Cohen cites reports that important decisions in Kiev-governed Ukraine are being made by, or cleared with, the American ambassador in consultation with Vice President Joseph Biden. If so, Cohen concludes, Kiev is increasingly taking on the appearance of an American colony, for which Washington is now politically responsible. Chances to end the US-Russian proxy war in Ukraine, through the Minsk accords proposed by German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande, are therefore also being squandered—by Kiev and its backers in Washington.