In an interview with CBS News, Stephen Cohen, most recently the author of Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, questions the timing of the arrests in the Russian spy scandal.
More precisely, Cohen, who is a former White House advisor, suggests that the arrest might have been a backhanded political move to embarrass Obama in light of his high-profile meeting with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. The move might have also been used to upset Obama’s attempts to “reset” the U.S.-Russian relations. In the interview Cohen suggests, “If this was done by someone to undermine Obama’s reset policy toward the Russians it reminds us how strong the opposition is.” Moreover, Cohen wonders what, if any, advanced knowledge Obama had of the arrests.
Cohen argues that the “heavy hand of the historical legacy of the Cold War lives on,” and that in both the United States and Russia a degree of mistrust exists between the two nations. As to the degree to which these accused spies represented a real danger, Cohen says, “These people were up to something, or some of them were, but it seems pretty innocuous. There are no charges of espionage.”