President Barack Obama announced last week that he will not travel to Moscow for a scheduled summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin following next month’s G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg. That change was obviously aimed as a punishment against Mr. Putin.
Just don’t count on the Russian despot quaking in his boots over it.
More likely, the Machiavellian Mr. Putin is chuckling at having poked his U.S. counterpart in the eye and gotten an “ouch.”
The summit cancellation expresses the depth of U.S. displeasure at Mr. Putin’s granting of a one-year visa to Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, now the notorious leaker of its secrets.
Mr. Snowden fled America, first to Hong Kong and then to Moscow, where for many weeks he was holed up in an airport transit area. U.S. pleas that he be returned to face charges in America were unavailing (no doubt, Mr. Putin would aver, on humanitarian grounds).
Most analysts correctly see this as just another calculated slight against a U.S. president whom Mr. Putin and many other foreign dictators clearly consider a pushover.
So much for the celebrated “reset” of U.S. diplomatic relations with Russia.
But America should perhaps breathe a sigh of relief.
Recall President Obama’s March 2012 off-mic message to Mr. Putin, entreating him for “space” until after the election, to deal with missile defense and other sensitive matters.
“This is my last election,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Putin’s factotum, Dmitri Medvedev, at the South Korea summit. “After my election I have more flexibility.”
So for the Russians, it could be viewed as a missed opportunity. As for Snowden, if he thought the weeks he spent in limbo at Moscow’s airport were trying — well, he likely ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
The Russian bear is not fond of providing room and board to foreign expats once sucked dry of whatever useful intelligence they have to offer.
And that bear, like Mr. Putin, is something of a carnivore.