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international intrigue

Putin Doesn’t Really Understand What Snowden Is Doing, But Whatever

Russia's President Vladimir Putin takes part in a ceremony of receiving credentials in the Kremlin in Moscow, on September 26, 2012. Putin said today world powers should draw lessons from their mistakes and stop interfering in crisis-hit nations of North Africa and the Middle East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is basically shrugging in the general direction of both the United States and NSA leaker Edward Snowden, while attempting to still say all the right things. Following Snowden's official application for asylum in Russia, Putin once again stated that Snowden should refrain from "activity that harms Russian-American relations," but stressed today that it's a relatively minor issue, all things considered: "Bilateral relations, in my opinion, are much more important than the squabbles around the activities of the security services," he said. As for Snowden, who knows! "He's a young man," said Putin. "In fact, I do not even really understand how he intends to continue to build his life. But it was his destiny and his choice. And we have our own national objectives." So, that's a maybe?

Kremlin-linked lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who has been helping Snowden with his paperwork, said the world's most famous vagrant may be able to leave the airport transit zone where he's been staying "within days." Snowden, Kucherena added today, could even go one step further and "does not rule out the possibility of asking for Russian citizenship."

Putin, too, seemed to hint that this asylum thing will work out eventually. "Russia has an independent foreign policy," he said, "and we will implement it. I hope that our partners understand and react to this with calm, understanding." Barack Obama is due to visit Russia in September, so we'll see.

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Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AFP/Getty Images