The White House announced Wednesday that President Obama had canceled a scheduled visit to Moscow next month for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The decision follows the country’s decision to grant NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden temporary asylum for a year. Obama still plans to attend the Group of 20 economic summit that will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia. However, instead of visiting Moscow, Obama will stop over in Sweden ahead of the G-20 gathering.
In an interview that aired on “The Tonight Show” on Tuesday, the president told host Jay Leno that he was “disappointed” with Russia’s move to give Snowden temporary asylum, saying it also reflected the “underlying” challenges the U.S. faces in its relationship with the country.
“There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality,” he said.
The Huffington Post:
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Russia’s decision last week to defy the U.S. and grant Snowden temporary asylum only exacerbated an already troubled relationship. And with few signs that progress would be made during the Moscow summit on other agenda items, Rhodes said the president decided to cancel the talks.
“We’ll still work with Russia on issues where we can find common ground, but it was the unanimous view of the president and his national security team that a summit did not make sense in the current environment,” Rhodes said.
Obama’s decision to scrap talks with Putin is likely to deepen the chill in the already frosty relationship between the two leaders. They have frequently found themselves at odds on pressing international issues, most recently in Syria, where the U.S. accuses Putin of helping President Bashar Assad fund a civil war. The U.S. has also been a vocal critic of Russia’s crackdown on Kremlin critics and recently sanctioned 18 Russians for human rights violations.