Russia expert: US decision to supply arms to Ukraine a 'mistake'

Stephen Cohen, a professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton University, says the Trump administration's decision to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine was a "mistake."

In an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis in New York, Cohen said that it was clear that President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE — like former President Obama — did not want to approve a plan to provide the new arms to Ukraine, but decided to do so in an attempt to shirk allegations that he has acted as a "Putin puppet."

"Look at what Trump is accused of every day, in all the newspapers, of being an agent of the Kremlin," Cohen said. "His nervous system is clearly cracking under these charges and he thinks this will get this monkey off his back."

ADVERTISEMENT

Cohen, who has in the past voiced skepticism of allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, also criticized the breadth of ongoing investigations into Moscow's role in the 2016 presidential election.

He said that indictments stemming from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's investigation into Russian meddling in the election gave the appearance of Kremlin-linked wrongdoing, but in reality had nothing to do with Russia.

"What you're ending up with as Mueller gets guys to plead to financial crimes, is you're getting 'Russiagate' without Russia," he said. "So I don't know where this is leading."

Mueller's investigation has so far turned up charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ investigating one-time Trump campaign adviser over alleged ties to Qatar: report Foreign lobbyists donated over M during 2020 election: report Former Mueller prosecutor representing Donoghue in congressional probes: report MORE and one of his associates for money laundering, tax evasion and failing to register as a foreign agent, among other charges.

George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosTrump supporters show up to DC for election protest Trump pardons draw criticism for benefiting political allies Klobuchar: Trump 'trying to burn this country down on his way out' MORE, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump's campaign, and Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, have both pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with people linked to the Russian government.

Trump and his allies have denied allegations that the campaign conspired with the Russian government to disrupt and influence the 2016 presidential election, and the president himself has called Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt."