Moscow is disappointed by the cancellation of US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to Moscow for a bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a senior Kremlin aide said Wednesday.
The two heads of state were scheduled to hold talks in Moscow ahead of a gathering of the Group of 20 major economies on September 5 in St. Petersburg.
“We are disappointed by the decision made by the US administration to cancel Obama’s visit to Moscow in September,” Putin’s top foreign policy aide, Yury Ushakov, told reporters.
“It is clear that this decision has been prompted by the situation regarding former US spy agency employee Edward Snowden, [a situation] which was not created by us,” Ushakov said.
Ushakov added that the situation showed that the United States was still not ready for relations “on an equal basis” with Russia, but he said the invitation for Obama to visit was still in force.
The Kremlin official reiterated that Moscow was ready to continue collaboration with Washington “on key issues of the bilateral and international agenda.”
The White House said in a statement on Wednesday that there was “not enough progress in bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a US-Russia summit in early September.” The standoff over Snowden was a factor in the cancellation of Obama’s visit, the statement added.
The planned Obama-Putin summit was called into question by officials in Washington after Russia granted temporary asylum to Snowden, who is wanted on espionage charges in the United States for leaking classified information about US surveillance programs that allegedly targeted millions of Americans.
Snowden was granted asylum last week after spending a month in a transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Washington has repeatedly called on Russia to expel Snowden and made clear immediately after he was granted asylum that the Obama-Putin summit was in jeopardy.