The following article written by Oscar Lopez appeared in the September 28, 2018, issue of the Yale Daily News.
“We are in a new Cold War,” said Russian-American journalist Vladimir Pozner, describing on Thursday evening the escalation in tensions between the United States and Russia today.
Pozner delivered this statement during a talk entitled “How the United States created Vladimir Putin” to a crowd of more than 150 students, faculty and members of the New Haven community at the Henry R. Luce Hall. Pozner is among the most prominent journalists in both Russia and the United States. He drew on five decades of journalistic experience when underscoring the instrumental role that U.S. foreign policy has played in creating distrust between the two nations despite the disbanding of the Soviet Union.
His talk was followed by a Q&A portion moderated by Douglas Rogers, associate professor of anthropology. The event was sponsored by the newly established Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, the MacMillan Center and the European Studies Council.
“We are at an extremely dangerous moment today,” said Pozner. “Never have the relations between Russia and the United States … been at this level [of animosity].”
Citing the enlargement of NATO, the bombing of Yugoslavia and the recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation by the U.S., among other events, Pozner argued that the U.S. took advantage of the Russian government, which at the time was less assertive in its foreign policy in order to maintain peace with the U.S. According to Pozner, these events all played a role in driving Vladimir Putin, the current president of Russia, towards the aggressive foreign policy the country currently advances.
Pozner also claimed that mainstream journalists in both the U.S. and Russia contributed to the formation of the negative opinions the citizens of both countries have of each other. He went on to assert that rather than being an instrument for reporting the truth, journalism in both countries today consists of nothing but finger-pointing rhetoric.
“They’re not journalists,” said Pozner. “Those people are playing a destructive role in creating the fear, the dislike, [and] the distrust that the people [in both countries have towards each other].”
During the Q&A portion, an audience member asked about Pozner’s opinion about Russian interference in the 2016 American election.
Pozner said that the Russian government probably did attempt to influence the election, but expressed doubt that such interference would at all influence the average American voter.
Attendees interviewed by the News had mixed feelings about some of Pozner’s remarks.
“[Pozner] created a false equivocation, and I do not think we should treat Russian media and U.S. media equally,” said Vitaly Beloborodov GRD ’19, a graduate student from Russia.
Beloborodov said that he believed “most of the [Russian] media is utterly, completely under government control.”
Mykola Sapronov ’22 said that he agreed with Pozner’s claim that Russian interference in the 2016 election did not play a large role in Trump getting elected.
The talk served as part of an initiative to promote the expansion of the Yale Eastern-European and Eurasian Studies program.