Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. Cohen points out that since Presidents Obama and Putin staged a public debate at the UN on September 28, there have been significant developments on all three fronts. Due to the refugee crisis and festering Ukrainian conflict, European leaders are now drifting away from Washington and toward the positions taken by Putin. On October 2, French President Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel again demanded that Ukrainian President Poroshenko implement the Minsk peace accords. Again, he agreed, but again, Cohen argues, Poroshenko will not because of ultra-nationalist anti-Minsk forces in Kiev. It’s also clear that Europe supports Putin’s military actions in Syria, no matter what some of their officials say publicly.
The real decision, Cohen emphasizes, is now with the Obama administration. Will it seize Putin’s proposal to form an anti-ISIS coalition, which if successful could curtail or even end the new Cold War? Or will it make Syria another proxy war against Russia, as it has done in Ukraine? The Washington political-media establishment seems to be undecided. Some influential figures express a softening perspective on Russian policy. Others, however, including Hillary Clinton, demand that the Obama administration impose a no-fly zone over Syria. Cohen points out that such a no-fly zone would require shooting down Russian war planes—as indeed some DC influentials are demanding—which would almost certainly mean an actual US-Russian war. Other aspects of the growing political and military crisis on three continents are also discussed.