In one of the clearest indications that Russian President Vladimir Putin is changing his tune in the Snowden case, he stated that “US-Russia relations are above” the impasse caused by the former NSA contractor.
The Russian President spoke about the situation created by Edward Snowden, who is stuck in the transit area of the Moscow airport waiting for asylum, on Wednesday making it clear that he will not let the sticky situation come between the two countries.
However, a lawyer for Snowden, who is wanted by the US on espionage charges, said that he will be granted temporary asylum in Russia within a week.
Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena also said that Snowden has no plans to travel to any of the three Latin American countries who have offered him asylum.
Putin is stuck between a rock and a hard place, allowing Snowden to stay, even temporarily will upset Washington and not doing so will make him look weak in the eyes of the Russian public, some of who still see the US as the old Cold War nemesis.
When asked, during a visit to eastern Siberia, if the Snowden situation would affect the US-Russia summit in September Putin stated,
“Bilateral relations, in my opinion, are far more important than squabbles about the activities of the secret services.”
The President did not say whether Russia would grant the asylum request filed by Snowden on Tuesday, after more than three weeks at the Sheremetyevo airport, but he insisted that the former NSA contractor must not harm the US with any further revelations.
“We warned Mr. Snowden that any action by him that could cause damage to Russian-American relations is unacceptable for us,” Putin, who is a former KGB spy, said.
Putin seems to be using a more conciliatory tone after butting head with the US over Syria, Iran, and other conflicts.