As Obama readies to visit Russia for G-20 summit, will he bypass Moscow?
July 19th, 2013
12:13 AM ET

As Obama readies to visit Russia for G-20 summit, will he bypass Moscow?

Edward Snowden’s long layover may be over if Russia grants him temporary asylum. But will it?

The country has the G-20 summit coming up. And while the White House has said President Barack Obama will attend the gathering in St. Petersburg, it isn’t saying whether he’ll stop in Moscow.

That’s not the kind of embarrassment President Vladimir Putin wants to risk over the American intelligence leaker.

During a visit to Ireland in June, Obama and Putin talked – and agreed to a one-on-one session in Moscow before the summit kicks off.

But that was before Snowden turned up in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport – and after three long weeks, applied for temporary asylum Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the White House left Obama’s schedule purposefully vague, playing coy with reporters who tried to illicit a firm ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

“The President intends to travel to Russia in September for the G-20 summit and I don’t have any further announcements with regards to that travel,” spokesman Jay Carney said.

Snowden’s leaks exposed sweeping U.S. electronic surveillance programs, embarrassed the Obama administration, and elicited howls of protests from privacy rights groups. The U.S. wants him home to face espionage charges.

“Our interest has always been in seeing him expelled from Russia and returned to the United States,” Carney said Tuesday.

Snowden’s move to apply for temporary asylum was a calculated one.

Political asylum would have required the approval of the Kremlin; a temporary asylum needs only the approval of the Russian Federal Migration Service.

This frees Putin from ownership of the decision. But it’s hard to believe that any decision regarding Snowden is made without his input.

Both Washington and Moscow hope Snowden’s presence in Russia don’t claim the leaders’ private meeting as an unwanted casualty.

Putin has said he’s made it clear to Snowden that he doesn’t want him participating in any “activity that harms Russian-American relations.”

“As soon as he’s allowed to go somewhere else, I hope he will do that,” Putin told a group of students Monday.

But Putin, always eager to be somewhat defiant, also pointed out that the U.S. orchestrated some of its own mess.

“(They) scared all the other countries such that no one wants to take him, and thereby blockaded him on our territory,” he said.

Both leaders concede the U.S.-Russia relationship is strong enough to withstand one hacker.

“I'm not going to have one case of a suspect who we are trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where I've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited so that he can face the justice system in the United States,” Obama said during a trip to Senegal in June.

For his part, Putin told journalists, “Bilateral relations, in my opinion, are much more important than squabbles around the activities of the security services.”

For now, Snowden remains in transit - and a thorn on the side of Obama.

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • Putin • Russia
soundoff (34 Responses)
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  19. StanCalif

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    July 20, 2013 at 8:14 am | Reply
  21. John McKane

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    July 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Reply
    • p

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      July 19, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  22. jesus59

    präsident obama must to speake good talks whis präsident putin while whe are all normal peapele,and the world will freedom not war,when we are will freedom and a normal life it is very possibele that the leaders of usa an russia are in fine relasionships,and work whith one voice,and than we have of the world a change to stay saver. i stay in germany and im 54 jears old and im a politikprivate-analytiker since 30 jears.i hope fore all the peaple of the world that the präsidends make a fine work. by by my friends of the world.please send this mail to obama and putin.mfg

    July 19, 2013 at 4:58 am | Reply
    • Windtalker

      Your point is well taken.

      July 19, 2013 at 6:27 am | Reply
      • George patton

        I agree but I wish that Obama would just forget about Edward Snowden and move on. If Edward Snowden were to be brought back here like Obama wanted, he'd never get a fair trial in any case. Does anyone here remember what happened to Julius and Ethel Rosenburg i 1951? Moreover, if the right-wings in Washington don't get their way, what harm will it do?

        July 19, 2013 at 7:51 am |
      • Windtalker

        Your point isn't welcomed

        July 20, 2013 at 6:21 am |
  23. Windtalker

    I like the picture who will blink first. Need to back off on Snowdog and just capture him in the future. Right now they need to hammer out an action plan Together for the middle east and no more cold war games. No need to turn this area into an arms race, not with radical muslims. I over simplify things; maybe that is what is needed.

    July 19, 2013 at 4:29 am | Reply
  24. ANY Joe

    But He tooo weak LOL

    July 19, 2013 at 2:59 am | Reply
  25. ANY Joe

    Ok so this is a test for Obama Time to tell the Rusky's whats up...

    July 19, 2013 at 2:54 am | Reply

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