Obama snubs Putin over Snowden call
President Barack Obama has cancelled plans to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin, a rare diplomatic snub and retribution for Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to secrets whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Mr Obama still attends to plan the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg next month but has no plans to meet Mr Putin there one-on-one.
Mr Obama said he was "disappointed" by Russia's move to grant Mr Snowden asylum for one year. He said it also reflected the "underlying challenges" the US faces in dealing with Moscow.
"There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality," Mr Obama told NBC's "The Tonight Show."
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Russia's decision last week to defy the US only worsened an already troubled relationship. And with few signs that progress would be made during the Moscow summit on other agenda items, he said the president decided to cancel the talks.
"We'll still work with Russia on issues where we can find common ground, but it was the unanimous view of the president and his national security team that a summit did not make sense in the current environment," he said.
Mr Obama's decision is likely to deepen the chill in the already frosty relationship between the two leaders. They have frequently found themselves at odds on pressing international issues, most recently in Syria, where the US accuses Mr Putin of helping president Bashar Assad fund a civil war. The US has also been a vocal critic of Russia's crackdown on Kremlin critics and recently sanctioned 18 Russians for human rights violations.
Moscow has accused the US of installing a missile shield in Eastern Europe as a deterrent against Russia, despite American assurances that the shield is not aimed at its former Cold War foe. Mr Putin also signed a law last year banning US adoptions of Russian children, a move that was seen as retaliation for the US measure that cleared the way for the human rights sanctions.
Mr Putin's foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said the US move reflected its inability to develop relations with Moscow on an "equal basis." At the same time, he said that the invitation to Mr Obama to visit Moscow next month still stands.
Mr Ushakov added that "Russian representatives are ready to continue working together with American partners on all key issues on the bilateral and multilateral agenda."