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Snowden effect: Obama cancels meet with Putin; Russia blames 'US politics' news
08 August 2013

Russia's grant of temporary asylum to state secrets leaker Edward Snowden has had its expected fallout, as US President Barak Obama on Wednesday cancelled his summit meeting with Vladimir V Putin which was scheduled to take place just before the annual G20 meet in St Petersburg.

Obama will attend the Group of 20 meet on 5-6 September, and US secretaries of state and defence will still meet with their Russian counterparts in Washington on Friday. But Obama will not even meet with Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 gathering, as is customary.

''We weren't going to have a summit for the sake of appearances, and there wasn't an agenda that was ripe,'' said Benjamin J Rhodes, the president's deputy national security adviser.

''We're not in any way signalling that we want to cut off this relationship,'' he said, but added that meetings from now on will be held at lower levels.

Another White House aide said Snowden's asylum had deepened the pre-existing tension between the two counties.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will go ahead with a planned meeting on Friday with Russia's foreign minister Sergey V Lavrov and defence minister Sergei K Shoigu, even as reports said the US administration was re-evaluating relations with Russia.

''We'll continue to calibrate whether or not the relationship improves to the point where we can reopen the prospect of a presidential initiative,'' Rhodes said.

Russian officials blamed Obama for the deadlock and suggested he was motivated by domestic politics. Yuri V Ushakov, adviser to Putin on foreign affairs, said the US did not want to build stronger ties between the two countries.

''This very problem underlines the fact that the United States is still not ready to build relations on an equal basis,'' he told reporters after Ambassador Michael McFaul delivered news of Obama's decision in Moscow.

According to observers, the Snowden affair has merely exacerbated tensions between the former Cold War rivals, which have been building up for some time or simply put, the US doesn't like the way Putin and his administration function.

Obama did not attend an Asia-Pacific meeting hosted by Putin late last year. Meanwhile, the US Congress passed the Magnitsky Act imposing sanctions against Russian human rights violations, and Moscow retaliated by cutting off American adoptions of Russian children.

Obama's decision to avoid meeting with the Russian President received support among both Republicans and Democrats.

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Snowden effect: Obama cancels meet with Putin; Russia blames 'US politics'