For any international events or summits in Russia in the foreseeable future, count on the U.S. to maybe, possibly think about potentially going. That is, until Russia hands over Edward Snowden.
Angry over Russia's consideration of a temporary asylum request from Snowden, Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsay Graham introduced a resolution recommending moving September's G-20 summit from St. Petersburg, Russia, unless Snowden is turned over to U.S. authorities. “Enough is enough,” Schumer said. “It’s time to send a crystal clear message to President Putin about Russia’s deplorable behavior, and this resolution will do just that.”
This comes as the White House is reportedly considering canceling an Obama-Putin summit this fall, the AP reports. And even the assertion that Obama will travel to the G-20 came with some hesitation. "The president intends to travel to Russia for the G20 Summit," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "And I have no further announcements to make beyond what we've said in the past about the president's travel to Russia in the fall."
The word "intends" is the key part of the statement, and leaves open the possibility that if certain things changed—i.e., if Russia gives asylum to Snowden—the president could change his mind and cancel the trip. G-20 financial leaders have put forth an ambitious plan to reform tax loopholes that help major multinational corporations like Google and Apple, Reuters reported today, and a U.S. absence from the summit would be important.
Graham appears to have taken the lead among politicians threatening Russia, as he called for the U.S. to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics there a few days ago. Those calls were roundly dismissed by the White House and fellow senators, but Graham doubled down on his views in an interview on Fox News, comparing the Olympics in Russia in 2014 to those in Nazi Germany in 1936:
“Look what Hitler did in 1936,” Graham added. “They sold to the world something they were not. Like it or not, the Olympic Games are used by the host country to sell themselves.”
“Should we be part of selling Russia for Putin?” he asked again. “If he gives Snowden asylum, should we give our Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on the games that he will be hosting?”
“I don’t want to stop the Olympics, I want to stop Putin,” Graham concluded.
Of course, as of now these threats have little bite to them. "Nothing'll get Snowden back faster than some grandstanding by US senators that Russians will enjoy a hearty LOL over," tweets Slate political reporter Dave Weigel.
But with tensions growing between the two former enemies, there isn't yet much to LOL about.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.