In a move that shows just how serious the U.S. government is about punishing Edward Snowden and putting Vladimir Putin in his place, President Obama has followed through on threats to not visit the Russian capital after the country granted asylum to the NSA leaker. Obama hinted at the cancellation last night on Leno, explaining that he was “disappointed” in their decision to let Snowden stay, and arguing, “There have been times when they slip back into Cold War thinking.” Two can play that game, apparently.
“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,” said White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. Press Secretary Jay Carney explained on Monday, “We obviously disagree with the Russians very strongly about the decision they’ve made on Mr. Snowden,” but noted “other issues where we have failed to see, thus far, eye to eye.”
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are still scheduled to meet with Russian officials in Washington on Friday, which might be awkward. “We expect a very intensive discussion, all the more so because there are quite a few sharp, controversial and difficult questions,” said Russia’s deputy foreign minister.
Obama will attend the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg next month despite the hiccups and message-sending, but will skip his stop in Moscow for a one-one-one with Putin. Instead, he’ll take a trip to Sweden, which, frankly, sounds less stressful anyway.