"Treatment of Jews and the status of Jews in Russia has often been a barometer for judging Russian rulers," Princeton politics professor Stephen Cohen said Sunday, and " [Vladimir] Putin has been better for Jews in Israel than any Russian leader in history. If you want evidence of that, just ask Israel."
Speaking on Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, Cohen said "of all the autocrats who have ruled Russia over the last 400 years, Putin is the least authoritarian," with the possible exception of Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Cohen defended Putin, saying "he didn't create the crisis (in Ukraine), it was imposed upon him. "Putin is not a thug, he is not a neo-Soviet imperialist trying to recreate the Soviet Union…he is not anti-American," he said.
Neither is Putin an ideologue, and he is certainly no democrat. For him it is all about power. "His mission as he sees it is to restore Russia" from what he sees as the disaster of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cohen added.