Russian media misrepresented the opinion of a single American academic as the official policy of politicians in Kyiv and Washington. The misleading bit of information first appeared on Russia’s English-language SputnikNews, and then was reprinted by RIA Novosti with the headline “Cohen: Politicians in Washington and Kyiv Give Birth to ‘2-Ukraine” Idea.”
The American historian Stephen Cohen, controversial for his pro-Russian views over the last two years, is quoted in these reports as saying that that the idea of creating two Ukraines has been hatched among politicians in Kyiv and Washington. He says that both governments are ready to abandon Donbas because “in Kyiv they recognize that they cannot win the sympathy of the east of Ukraine, and it is understood that they cannot win them over in armed conflict.”
Cohen’s opinion about “2 Ukraines” was reprinted by Russian and separatist media, including Russkaya Vesna with the headline “Washington and Kyiv Give Birth to ‘2-Ukraine” Idea”, Pravda.ru, Antifascist, and Military Review.
Cohen’s influence on, or access to, top-level diplomatic and policy circles in Washington and Kyiv is negligible. Since the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis, he has been highly controversial in his outspoken defense of Russian policy on The Nation, CNN and in other media. As a result, he has drawn the ire of journalists and policymakers, and has even been tagged by some as a Kremlin apologist.