The recent decision of the Russian government to grant asylum to Edward Snowden was one reason among many cited by White House spokesperson Jay Carney for the cancelation.
The meeting was scheduled to take place in September when Obama plans to be in St Petersburg Russia for the Group of 20 economic summit meeting. Obama still plans to attend the Group of 20 meeting.
Carney explained the president's decision: “Given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda." According to the NY Times, Carney says Russia’s “disappointing decision” to grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden was “also a factor” in Obama’s decision.
The Russian government expressed disappointment at the cancelation, but placed the blame largely on the US. “This very problem underlines the fact that the United States is still not ready to build relations on an equal basis,” Yuri V. Ushakov, a senior aide to Mr. Putin, told reporters at the Kremlin, the NY Times reported.
Ivan Melnikov, a representative of the Russian Communist Party, says Obama's actions vindicate Russia's decision to grant asylum to Edward Snowden. "The move of Obama is a perfect confirmation to the correctness of our conduct. Snowden must be really valuable if the Americans react this way."
MeInikov was also not worried about long-term damage to US-Russian relations. "Cooperation between the U.S. and Russian economies cannot stop for political reasons due to their current condition," he told Interfax.
"Besides, we will be victorious in this geopolitical situation. The entire world willingly approves of the Russian actions and the decision concerning Snowden. And the majority of average U.S. citizens feel this way. So, what is this all about? The CIA does not seem to like to be embarrassed and to lose, does it? But that is their problem,"
Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told USA Today that Obama canceling a meeting is an inadequate response to Putin's actions. "It's a diplomatic equivalent of fluttering your eyelids," Bolton says. "Russia has caused us real pain with Snowden and the United States should cause them real pain."
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