Stephen Kotkin on Ukraine

On the matter of the war in Ukraine, one of my favorite historians, Stephen Kotkin, is my go-to person. Here’s Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution in conversation with Kotkin.

This is from March 4th, when the Russian invasion was just eight days old. Kotkins places it in its historical context. Although 80 minutes long, it is worth every minute and more.

The previous post (Ukraine) had a link to a piece which argued that the US should keep out of the conflict. Nothing that Kotkin says contradicts that position.

Author: Atanu Dey


7 thoughts on “Stephen Kotkin on Ukraine”

  1. Pretty remarkable in his entire 1+ hour discussion about geopolitics he speaks of Iran, Russia, China, Poland, Germany, France, Australia but not even a mention of India.


    1. Also no mention of Pakistan. West has a huge blind spot when it comes to south Asia. Even the smartest analysts dont give enough mind space to Pakistan. They will drone on about Iran, but not Pakistan. Iran does NOT have nukes, Pak has. Pak has bigger population than Iran. Bigger Army. Pak is more radical. It was Pak who was at the center of 9/11 attacks. It is Pak who has just given the latest defeat to US in Afghanistan. Pakistan borders all the erstwhile Soviet republics of central Asia and it is Pak with its partnership with China a formidable opponent to the West.
      My guess is that this is partly because of historical reasons, partly because of racist, supremacist ideas (what could those “bhoookha-nanga” people can do)
      Whatever it may be western experts miss a huge mark when analyzing central Asia or Eastern Europe in ignoring Pakistan and the threat it poses to the world


      1. Agree. My clue for this derangement among americans is their use of the phrase “south asia”. They are unable to even recognize the region properly.


  2. Its difficult to believe that a man spouting US State Department propaganda verbatim is considered a scholar. Either the man is a useful idiot or clueless about what is happening and has happened in world affairs.

    Let’s begin with Putin’s supposed ‘forceful annexation’ of Crimea, whose background no US apologist feels worth stating. Crimea was handed down to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev. Its population consists of and consisted of overwhelming majority of Russians, who, by the way, voted in a referendum to join Russia. This, of course, Stephen Kotkin won’t tell you.

    He also won’t tell you that this happened AFTER US played an open role in illegal overthrow of democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2014. We have Victoria Nuland’s clippings and leaked phone call on record. Not to mention the horror of NATO, an openly hostile military alliance, using Crimea to host a naval base against Russia.

    Kotkin won’t tell you either that ever since 2014 coup, US has been engaged in a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, in which, more than 14,000 Russians have died.

    So much for Ukraine’s ‘sovereignty.’

    US actions in international relations should always be understood with the background of US history in mind. And the history is that US has endeavored to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically elected and has grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries. Well documented by William Blum in his “America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy.” All done to extend its power and hegemony and to muck around.
    William Blum had also written on what happened in 2014.

    Let’s compare US’ response historically to something not even near these acts.
    US invaded Grenada in 1982 on the claim that they were building an airport that in theory could be used for Soviet fighter jets. This compares nothing with US installations of ABM (US withdrawal from ABM Treaty is a story in itself) in Poland that directly undermines Russia’s nuclear deterrence and that can be transformed in a few hours to an offensive strike system.
    US also waged a terrorist war in Nicaragua that killed 10s of thousands of people when it didn’t even have a formal military alliance with Soviet Union. Only alleged ties.

    Kotkin’s claim that NATO expansion was a ‘post facto excuse,’ isn’t backed by even one single fact. Not one. Putin warned of consequences of NATO expansion in strongest words back in 2007, AFTER which 2008 and 2014 coup happened, which was followed by Russian attack on Georgia and incorporating Crimea back respectively. In fact, its Kotkin’s delusional expansionist Russia thesis which was formulated post facto. Russia, in fact, removed ALL ITS troops and influence from Cold War positions, but NATO DIDN’T AND HAVEN’T. Instead, a question nobody asked, why does NATO even exist at all today? Do we see greater Russia today or greater NATO?

    Leave all this complex talk, why is US acting as a Chacha Choudhary in a REGIONAL CONFLICT? What business is it of US to get involved in Ukraine issue at all? Did Russia or the world sanction US for all its terrible crimes, including the worst one ― invasion of Iraq? Did Russians give military support to Iraqis fighting Americans?

    Won’t even get into Kotkin’s ridiculous claims of full scale invasion of Ukraine, which ALL military analysts know is a US propaganda considering the number of troops that Russia deployed in Ukraine, and his comic mentions of US democracy as a filtering mechanism for correct information when US actively blocks Russian voice which has resulted in a class of zombies like him, whose most profound thesis of why war happened is because Putin is insane.

    My recommendation: Listen to top Pentagon advisor Doug Macgregor on the issue.


    1. Keshav,

      I would like to think that you have heard of the phrase “fog of war”. Fog of war is a temporary phenomenon, the fog lifts eventually.

      Having said that, I have realized that there is something call “brain rot of war” and I suspect it is permanent. It makes one lose their basic reasoning skills, critical thinking and other cognitive abilities that are required to exist as a functioning adult. Or perhaps the war only exposes the rot which already existed.


      1. As a side note and completely unrelated to anything in Atanu’s post or the comment thread I would like to mention that the best defense of Russian invasion is not coming from Russia but from USA. People are quoting American journalists, American tv anchors and ex-CIA people, Greenwald etc. In comparison to that anything put up by Russia looks like a joke.


    2. Why did USSR start expansionist wars to spread the poisonous Communism all over the world??
      Eastern Poland and other Slavic region that has suffered from imperialism of Russia from Czarist era and beyond. That’s the reason why a software engineer in Western Ukraine has picked up a gun and fighting for freedom


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