Almost two weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry went to Sochi. And last week on the The John Batchelor Show, The Nation’s Stephen Cohen explained why it mattered: In meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Cohen said, Kerry was signifying that the “White House policy towards Russia during the last year has failed.”

President Obama’s strategy has been to “isolate Russia and bring its leadership and the person of Putin to his knees,” Cohen explained. Obama had hoped that the new Cold War would force Russia to “make the concessions that the United States and NATO wanted in Ukraine.” Clearly, that has not happened and, as Cohen said, the White House is now making a “pivot in the Ukrainian crisis.”

Putin’s decision to meet with Kerry, Cohen continued, is a “very big symbolic diplomatic deal” that points to the possibility of a thaw in the new Cold War. The question now is: “What’s the new American policy?” And how will Obama convince Putin to cooperate on Ukraine? This, Cohen said, is “the major international crisis of our time.”

—Khadija Elgarguri