Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussion of the new US-Russian Cold War. Having just returned from Moscow, Cohen reports on several notable developments in Russia. President Vladimir Putin, systematically demonized in the United States as a Stalin-Hitler-like leader, is widely credited by knowledgeable Russians with having personally authorized the opening, on October 30, of a large Museum of the History of the Gulag and the building of a monument, in central Moscow, of a memorial to Stalin’s millions of victims.
Second, Cohen observes the traditional, non-traumatic ways Russians are coping with economic hardships imposed by Western sanctions and the fall in world prices for Russian energy. And third, he discusses the widespread Russian puzzlement over why the US government is opposing, even denouncing, Putin’s air war in Syria (and now Iraq) against the Islamic State.
More generally, Cohen and Batchelor discuss the trending of European political support toward Moscow, not Washington, due largely, though not only, to European hope that Putin’s war against the Islamic State will end the refugee crisis that now threatens the foundations of the European Union. Among the signs of this development is the crisis of German chancellor Merkel’s pro-Washington leadership. In this connection, the unrelenting Putin-bashing in the US political-media establishment is also discussed, raising the question: Is it the Obama Administration, not Putin’s Russia, that is now “isolated” in international affairs?