Russia has slammed the U.S. for raising doubts whether a meeting between U.S. President and his Russian counterpart will be held in September in Moscow after Russia offered asylum to Edward Snowden, the man who leaked top-secret documents on U.S. government spying programs.
“The U.S. administration is bringing into question bilateral contact at the highest level. I think this is absolute distortion of reality, it’s looking at the world in a crooked mirror,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with the Interfax news agency.
Ryabkov said it was “unclear why the United States is blowing up the situation with Snowden.”
The White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that Washington would decide “in coming days” whether President Barack Obama will go ahead with G-20 summit in Moscow in early September.
U.S.-Russia relations have been severely strained by after Moscow decided to grant asylum to Snowden despite U.S. requests not to do so. On August 1st, Carney said White House was “extremely disappointed” at Russia’s decision implying that Obama would reconsider the summit with Putin.
In his press briefing on Monday, Carney added that the White House was “continuing to evaluate the utility of a summit … We obviously disagree with the Russians very strongly about the decision they’ve made on Mr. Snowden.”
On whether to hold a summit in Moscow, Carney said, “we are evaluating that against not just our disagreement over Mr. Snowden but some of the other issues where we have failed to see, thus far, eye to eye.”
Obama had agreed to meet Putin in Moscow ahead of a September 5-6 summit of the Group of 20 (G20) in Saint Petersburg.
Two U.S. senators, Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chuck Schumer, have gone even further calling for a change in location of the G20 summit if Russia does not hand over Snowden.
President Putin has said Russia will not extradite Snowden to the U.S. States where he could face the death penalty.
Senator John McCain has called Russia’s move “a slap in the face of every American … now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin’s Russia.”
A report on NBC’s “Meet the Press” said that Obama has already decided to cancel the meeting with Putin.