Obama: Do Svidaniya Putin!
If we can judge by the announcement from the Obama administration, the relations between the US and Russia are at their lowest ebb for decades and they couldn’t get much colder. They are in fact icy right now over the Edward Snowden affair. The first announcement came this morning that Obama would be attending the G20 summit. Then, followed the statement that President Obama would not be meeting President Putin and that he would be pulling out of the summit meeting that had been scheduled during that visit.
The White House issued a statement to show that the threats were not merely empty ones that were made last week when it was announced that Russia had offered asylum for a year to whistleblower Edward Snowden. The statement issued said that there was “not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda”. The White House warned that progress needed to be made on human rights issues, arms control and missile defense before those talks could go ahead, before slipping in at the end that: “Russia's disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. Our cooperation on these issues remains a priority for the United States”.
Obama will therefore not be going to Moscow to meet Putin. Instead, he will be stopping off in Sweden just before the G20 summit. The Obama administration justified this by saying that Sweden “plays a key leadership role on the international stage including in opening new trade and investment opportunities”. Although, quite honestly, it all sounds like sour grapes and Sweden is largely being labeled the second best, because Obama doesn’t want to play with Putin anymore.
Obama strongly criticized Putin and the reaction of Russia in a televised interview on NBC’s Tonight Show by saying “There have been times where they slip back into cold war thinking and a cold war mentality” about Russia. We shall see the welcome that President Obama gets when he lands in Moscow for the G20 summit. Let’s hope he doesn’t get stuck in the transit lounge like Snowden for three weeks.
Obama also raised the question of recent gay-rights activism being cracked down on by the Putin government. Putin has already stated that he will enforce new laws in Russia during the 2014 Winter Olympics. Obama stated that he had “no patience” for countries that did not respect gay rights and that he would not tolerate gays, lesbians or transgenders being treated any differently from anyone else. The question remained open as to the reaction of the US if the new laws were actually enforced in Russia during the Games. The new anti-gay law was passed on June 30th and means that gay or pro-gay foreigners might be arrested, detained for a maximum of 14 days and then expelled from Russia.
For the moment however, President Obama is snubbing President Putin. The only think he has to say to him is Do Svidaniya Putin, or goodbye Vladimir.
It seems that now, the criticisms will be flying back and forth on almost anything and everything in an attempt for each party to show that the other is doing far worse in terms of human-rights issues. However, it risks escalating further and further until it comes to a head, whatever that may entail in the future. A stand-off at the O.K. Corral probably, the good guys set against the bad guys.
Place your bets gentlemen. The winner is…
The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.