Putin not the devil, says CNN co-founder

April 16, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin answers questions from the public during the annual Direct Line with Vladimir Putin special broadcast live on Russian television and radio. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin)
Vladimir Putin is defending Russian interests, and is not the devil the US media make him out to be, the CNN’s founding CEO wrote. Arguing using historical facts and personal experience, Reese Schonfeld expressed a belief that Russia is not the enemy.

The Russian president “may not be a nice man, but he certainly is not the devil that we are making him,” Reese Schonfeld wrote in his Huffington Post column on Thursday, titled “The Russians are not coming II.” Putin was “acting as any political leader should, in trying to preserve and protect his country,” he added.

Russia could have vetoed the UN resolution imposing sanctions on Iran, he pointed out. Instead, then-president Medvedev said that opposing a nuclear-armed Iran was in the best interest of Russia. The resulting nuclear talks saw the US and Russia negotiating an agreement “in which the Iranians surrender their right to build a nuclear weapon.”

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Maurice “Reese” Schonfeld was the founding Chief Executive Officer of CNN in 1979, ceding the office to Ted Turner in 1982. He currently consults on various media projects and writes a column for the Huffington Post.

In the latest column, Schonfeld echoed his own words from the original “The Russians are not coming” article, published in March 2014.

Is it possible for America to exist without creating a ‘straw man’ on which we may heap all our international anxieties and hostilities?” he wrote then.

Schonfeld also pointed out the US “ignored the break up of Yugoslavia, but we are publicly and loudly lamenting the breakup of the Ukraine.” Citing his friendship with a Russian journalist who married Nikita Khruschev’s grand-daughter, Schonfeld explained how ceding Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954 was seen by most Russians as “Khrushchev's mistake,” while the readmission of the peninsula to Russia became a defining success of Putin’s second presidency.

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It's about time we curtailed our fear of everything Russian and accepted the fact that they're entitled to make their own decisions in their own best interests,” Schonfeld wrote at the time.

A year later, NATO is conducting maneuvers from Latvia to Romania, and US warships are in the Black Sea. “I still remember that more than 10 million Russian died battling Hitler who attacked Russia from the east,” Schonfeld wrote. “I can well understand Putin's desire to guard his western flank.”

Historians have calculated that up to 27 million Soviet citizens, including ten million soldiers, died between June 1941 and May 1945 fighting Nazi Germany and its Italian, Romanian, Finnish, Hungarian and Croatian allies.