It’s not yet clear what final decision Russia will make on Snowden

Would you say that in case Snowden will ask for an asylum in Russia will Kremlin say yes or no, and why? If Kremlin says yes, what kind of reaction do you expect from the US? Read few comments.

Steven PiferSenior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

First, the Russian handling of Snowden is becoming increasingly murky. One would have to believe that, if the Russians wanted Snowden out of Russia and on his way to one of the countries that have offered him asylum, they would be clever enough to find a way to make it happen. But it’s not yet clear what final decision the Kremlin will make.

Second, as long as Snowden remains in Russia, his presence can pose a distraction, so it would be best for U.S.-Russian relations if he left as soon as possible. That said, Washington and Moscow know how to compartmentalize the handling of defectors and spies without damaging the broader relationship. For example, in fall 1986 the Reagan administration expelled some 80 Soviet diplomats at a time when the U.S.-Soviet relationship had begun to blossom. The U.S. government arrested and expelled ten Russian sleeper agents in 2010 when the reset was in full swing. Both cases turned out to be minor bumps. The two governments likewise should be able to manage the fallout of the Snowden case.

Richard Thornton, Professor of History and International Relations, George Washington University

I think the Russians will try to have it both ways. They will say they have not received an “official” request, but will harbor him anyway, perhaps arranging for him to go to Venezuela, or Ecuador. My guess is, however, that as long as Snowden has info the Russians want, they will keep him around. As for the US, as the Americans are committed to being “friendly” toward Moscow, no matter how outrageous their behavior, I expect that Washington will do everything in its power to excuse whatever the Russians do.  Moscow knows this and has no qualms about making Washington squeal.

James Wertsch, Professor in Arts & Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

No telling how this all turn out, but it’s obvious that the US and Russia are trying to negotiate indirectly or directly and backstage. I spoke with a high level Chinese adviser to the PRC government a few weeks ago, and he said China just wanted Snowden out of Hong Kong because he is unpredictable and will be a problem with few benefits for whatever government holds him after the news dies down. I think the same applies in the case of Russia. Snowden is likely to turn on any government like Russia or China after the novelty has worn off and start to complain about being censored. The United States Government clearly is involved in some of the practices he is complaining about, but no one—least of all Russia—is likely to present a much more innocent case. The US continues to follow a hard line publicly, and I think Putin will be increasingly interested in getting Snowden out of Moscow so he can ensure that Obama will indeed make his visit to Russia in the next few months.

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One Response

  1. No. Russia will not offer. The Facebook “spies” were directed and had specific activities, requirements basically low-fi soft power stuff. Social and online media create drama. Snowden is no Jonathan Pollard but he is a major counterintelligence failure for US. The “reset” was a public diplomacy branded product that has provided mixed, non-quantifiable results. The blowback will be contained to Latin America, which is no longer “America’s backyard” as US Secretary of State Kerry still likes to call it. Russia, China and Washington are all vying for influence in the region and some U.S. authors and scholars see the resurgence of a socialist left, when the political reality suggests it is a manufactured or “fake” left, that has more to do with Latin corporativism and the cultural penchant for vertical authority.

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