During a visit to The John Batchelor Show on Tuesday, Stephen Cohen, contributing editor at The Nation, spoke about the role of the United States in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. Much of the conversation centered around the White House’s statement that “if Russia continues its aggressive actions in Ukraine…costs for Russia will rise.”

“My folks in Russia tell me that Putin heard those words and his advisers interpreted those words as a direct threat by the president of the United States to Putin,” Cohen said. “That of course, is not a good way to go about this. There’s a force struggle, primarily in Washington, as to whether or not to enact this plan to arm Kiev with American and NATO weapons.”

Cohen said that Obama’s actions will be crucial in the ongoing crisis; if he does not send weapons to Kiev, he will face accusations of appeasement.

“But in this force struggle that’s going on in Washington now—as Harry Truman says—the buck stops with Obama,” Cohen said.

—Hilary Weaver