August 5, 2013
President Obama does not plan to meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of a trip to Russia next month if the asylum situation with NSA leaker Edward Snowden does not change.
Mr. Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, was granted temporary asylum by Russia last week. He had been holed up in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after fleeing the U.S. and heading to Hong Kong in the wake of his disclosing vast amounts of information about U.S. surveillance programs.
After the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg next month, Mr. Obama had planned a bilateral meeting with Mr. Putin, but NBC reported Sunday on “Meet the Press” that the administration will announce this week the meeting will not take place if the asylum situation is not resolved. The Obama administration protested vigorously when Moscow granted the fugitive asylum last week, the latest in a string of irritations in the bilateral relationship.
Mr. Snowden has been charged with espionage after leaking information regarding government surveillance programs to news outlets in recent months.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer also said the meeting should be canceled, saying Mr. Putin was acting “like a schoolyard bully.”
“That [meeting] would give Mr. Putin the kind of respect he doesn’t deserve at this time,” Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Mr. Schumer also said the United States should consider reaching out to allies to try to move the entire summit, which includes leading developed and developing powers, away from St. Petersburg.
“For once, Bob, I agree with Chuck Schumer on that,” Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said later on the program. “I think President Putin thinks he can get away with pushing around this administration because the administration has given sort of appeasement feelings that they can do this. The ‘reset’ policy has been an utter failure. This is a stab in the back. This is a slap in the face. … That has to come with consequences.”