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Edward Snowden Helps to Reignite the Long-Running Russia-U.S. Feud Edward Snowden Helps to Reignite the Long-Running Russia-U.S. Feud

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Defense

Edward Snowden Helps to Reignite the Long-Running Russia-U.S. Feud

The president has canceled a face-to-face meeting with the Russian president at a G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg next month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin(AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)

photo of Matt  Berman
August 7, 2013

President Obama has transmitted snubs to Vladimir.

On Wednesday, a White House official told the Associated Press that Obama has no plans to meet with Vladimir Putin when he is in Russia next month for a G-20 meeting. Obama had initially planned on meeting Putin in Moscow, but, instead, he will now make a trip to Sweden. Cool for Sweden.

Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser, elaborated on why Obama won't be meeting with the Russian president:

 

We'll still work with Russia on issues where we can find common ground, but it was the unanimous view of the president and his national security team that a summit did not make sense in the current environment.

This all, of course, comes just a week after Russia granted Edward Snowden temporary asylum. Obama was by no means the only Washington official to be peeved by the decision, and a cancellation of the face-to-face meeting seemed like a foregone conclusion. Obama has tried to downplay Snowden's significance, but Wednesday's decision makes it abundantly clear how much potential the leaker's future has to rile U.S. diplomacy.

In an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Tuesday night, Obama said he was "frustrated" and "disappointed" by Russia's asylum decision. But the president was careful to say that this isn't some kind of slip back to 1962:

There are times when they slip back into Cold War thinking and Cold War mentality. What I continually say to them and to President Putin, that's the past.

For his part, Putin spent much of July saying he would not allow Snowden to muck up Russia's relations with the U.S. But it's pretty hard to say right now that some damage hasn't been done.

Here's the full statement from the White House on the decision:

Following a careful review begun in July, we have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September. We value the achievements made with Russia in the President's first term, including the New START Treaty, and cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. However, given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian Government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda. Russia's disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. Our cooperation on these issues remains a priority for the United States, so on Friday, August 9, Secretaries Hagel and Kerry will meet with their Russian counterparts in a 2+2 format in Washington to discuss how we can best make progress moving forward on the full range of issues in our bilateral relationship.

 

The President still looks forward to traveling to St. Petersburg on September 5-6 to attend the G-20 Summit.

Obama Cancels Putin Meeting Over Snowden Asylum

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