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7 Aug, 2013 14:41

Kremlin ‘disappointed’ Obama called off Putin talks, decision is 'Snowden-related'

Kremlin ‘disappointed’ Obama called off Putin talks, decision is 'Snowden-related'

By calling off Obama’s visit to Moscow, the US has shown it is not ready to build relations on an equal footing, the Kremlin says. The Snowden situation, on which the decision was based, is not Russia’s fault, presidential aide Yury Ushakov stressed.

“We are disappointed by the US administration’s decision to cancel the visit of President Obama to Moscow that was planned for the beginning of September. It is clear that the decision is related to the situation around the former intelligence agency employee Snowden – something that was created not by us,” Ushakov told reporters on Wednesday. 

According to Ushakov, the US has “for many years dodged entering into an extradition treaty” with Russia and “invariably refused” its extradition requests citing the absence of such a treaty.

“All this situation shows that the US is still not ready to build relations with Russia on equal footing,” Putin’s aide added.

Despite that, Obama’s invitation to visit Moscow remains in effect, and Russia is “ready to continue working with our American partners on all the key issues of the bilateral and multilateral agenda,” Ushakov said.

Earlier today US President Barack Obama canceled a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow which was scheduled for September. The move came after Russia’s recent decision to grant temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

The White House cited the lack of progress in “missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last 12 months” as the grounds for the move, adding that Russia’s “disappointing decision” to grant Snowden asylum was also among the factors. 

Washington’s decision showed that the US will readily “sacrifice their bilateral relations with Russia” for the issues of their “internal agenda,” said Andrey Klimov, vice chairman of the Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee.

“We shall not forget such a behavior, but it can by no means signal a start of another Cold War,”
Klimov stressed, adding that there are “too many issues” that Russia and the US still need to be working on together.

Rather than seeing it as “a tragedy,” Klimov said he perceives the move as “an outcome of the situation of the domestic policy of the US.” 

The situation between Russia and the US logically requires that the two countries’ leaders meet at soon as possible, Foreign Affairs Committee chairman of the Russian Duma, Aleksey Pushkov told RIA Novosti, saying that Washington’s decision is only hindering progress.

“Now that so much negativity has built up [between Russia and the US], it would have been viable for the presidents of the two countries to meet and to see what of this negativity could be overcome, what could be left behind, and to set a new agenda,” Pushkov said. However, he added that Obama’s refusal to come to Moscow effectively delays such an opportunity. 

Edward Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena has also been scathing about the cancellation, saying that a human rights decision had been politicized by the Obama administration.

"What has Putin got to do with Snowden? Putin didn't make the decision to grant asylum. This is not even political asylum, but temporary asylum," he told RT.

"It appears that for the US, international policy trumps human rights, and they don't want to act within the legal boundaries, simply don't understand that Russia is not able to hand over Snowden at the current time."