Lawmakers blast Russia for allowing Edward Snowden to land in Moscow
'That's not how allies should treat one another,' says Sen. Schumer
Debate persists over whether Snowden is a hero or a traitor
The fragile U.S.-Russia relationship – already frayed by disagreements over Syria, Iran and nuclear arms – showed another sign of strain Sunday, as American lawmakers blasted the country’s President Vladimir Putin for allowing NSA leaker Edward Snowden to land in Moscow while evading U.S. espionage charges.
Snowden, who has admitted leaking top-secret information about government surveillance programs, left Hong Kong on Sunday and later touched down in Moscow, according to Wikileaks, which helped him travel. While Russia is not believed to be his final destination – Ecuador’s prime minister said Snowden applied for asylum in his country – lawmakers on Sunday were quick to fault Putin for harboring a man the U.S. government desperately wants back.
“Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States, whether it is Syria, Iran, and now, of course, with Snowden,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said on CNN’s State of the Union. “That’s not how allies should treat one another, and I think it will have serious consequences for the United States-Russia relationship.”
That relationship was already showing signs of strain at last week’s Group of Eight conference in Northern Ireland, where global leaders pressured Putin on his country’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which extends back to the Cold War and Assad’s father. At a joint appearance that followed a bilateral meeting last week, Putin and President Barack Obama were tense and unsmiling and offered no indication their deep disagreements about the way forward in war-torn Syria were any closer to being resolved.
Later in the week, Obama publicly pressured Russia to join the United States in slashing its supply of nuclear weapons, saying both nations needed to “move beyond Cold War nuclear postures.”