News Release

Stephen Cohen: Russia Expert Who Sought to Listen, not Demonize



Carden is the executive editor of the American Committee for East-West Accord where Cohen was a board member and is a contributing writer with The Nation, where Cohen was a longtime contributing editor.

Carden said today: “As was reported in the New York Times on Friday, professor Stephen F. Cohen passed away after a valiant battle with lung cancer at the age of 81. Stephen Frand Cohen was by many lights the nation’s leading and at times most controversial Russia expert. He was emeritus professor of politics and Russian studies at Princeton and, later, New York University where he influenced generations of students. He would often joke that being emeritus at two universities just meant that he had a lot of health insurance. His reach was felt beyond the classroom: his influential biography Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution, had an outsized impact in the trajectory of Soviet history. He found an avid reader and friend in Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev with whom he and his wife, The Nation magazine’s guiding light, Katrina vanden Heuvel, remained close. Steve’s columns and radio broadcasts regarding post-Soviet developments made him a lightning rod for controversy — but that doesn’t mean he was wrong. I believe the record speaks for itself. Steve’s output was voluminous and he will be dearly missed.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel’s obituary for Stephen Cohen in The Nation notes: “He was consistent in his refusal to sermonize, lecture, or moralize about what Russia should do. He preferred to listen rather than preach, to analyze rather than demonize.”

Cohen was on numerous news releases including “Motives of the ‘Cold-War Hysteria’ in U.S. Establishment.”

See speech by Professor Cohen at the Commonwealth Club on the Ukraine Crisis (2015) and discussion of his last book War with Russia? at the 92|Y with Cohen, Katriana vanden Heuvel and Dan Rather (2019).

His numerous pieces for The Nation include “How the Russiagate Investigation Is Sovietizing American Politics.” Carden adds: “Stephen Cohen began sounding the alarm over the danger of a new cold war long before most.” See piece from 2006.