Obama may cancel Moscow visit over Snowden

The president will still go to a G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg

By Alex Halperin
Published July 18, 2013 7:44PM (EDT)
First pictures of Edward Snowden's Moscow airport press conference, via Twitter                      (Twitter)
First pictures of Edward Snowden's Moscow airport press conference, via Twitter (Twitter)

President Obama may cancel a planned visit to Moscow in September due to Russia's refusal to hand over Edward Snowden, the leaker who has been living for weeks in the transition area of a Moscow airport. This would be a chilling of the never easy relations between the two countries according to the New York Times:

The White House announced the Moscow meeting in June as an extra stop on an already planned trip to St. Petersburg for the annual gathering of the Group of 20 nations. But while Mr. Obama is still committed to going to St. Petersburg, he is now rethinking the Moscow stop, not just because of the impasse over Mr. Snowden but due to a whole range of issues dividing the two countries.

A cancellation of the Moscow meeting would be seen as a direct slap at Mr. Putin, who is known to value such high-level visits as a validation of Russian prestige. While the White House may be using the meeting as leverage to win cooperation as it seeks the return to the United States of Mr. Snowden, who is now staying at Moscow’s airport, the reconsideration also reflects a broader concern that the two countries are far apart on issues like Syria, Iran, arms control and missile defense.

Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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Diplomacy Moscow President Obama Putin Russia Snowden Vladimir Putin