Obama Cancels Putin Summit Over Snowden, Syria, Human Rights

The meeting would have occurred around Obama's trip to St. Petersburg in early September to attend the G-20 Summit, which will be preceded by a presidential visit to Stockholm, Sweden.

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Larry Downing / REUTERS

U.S. President Barack Obama joins Jay Leno at the NBC Studios in Burbank, California, August 6, 2013.

President Barack Obama is bailing on a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month in Moscow over a growing rift between the two countries, administration officials confirmed Wednesday.

“Following a careful review begun in July, we have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

The meeting would have occurred around Obama’s trip to St. Petersburg in early September to attend the G-20 Summit, which will be preceded by a presidential visit to Stockholm, Sweden. Obama said Tuesday night in an appearance on The Tonight Show that he was “disappointed” with Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum last month to admitted NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The Obama administration has also clashed with Putin over his support for embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country’s civil war. Obama has repeatedly stated that Assad must leave power.

“There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality, and what I consistently say to them and what I say to President Putin is that’s the past, and we’ve got to think about the future, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to cooperate more effectively than we do,” Obama told host Jay Leno.

Obama and his administration noted instances where the United States and Russia cooperate. “However, given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian Government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda,” Carney said. “Russia’s disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. Our cooperation on these issues remains a priority for the United States, so on Friday, August 9, Secretaries Hagel and Kerry will meet with their Russian counterparts in a 2+2 format in Washington to discuss how we can best make progress moving forward on the full range of issues in our bilateral relationship.”

On The Tonight Show, Obama also described his icy relationship with the Russian leader, the former head of the KGB. “Well, you know, the truth is that when we had meetings we could have some pretty blunt exchanges, animated exchanges, but that seems to be his preferred style during press conferences is sitting back and not looking too excited,” Obama said. “Now, part of it is he’s not accustomed to having press conferences where you’ve got a bunch of reporters yelling questions at you.”

Russia’s new law banning “gay propaganda” also played a role in Obama’s decision, according to administration officials. On Tuesday night Obama told Jay Leno, “I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.” Obama has staked his legacy on expanding gay rights both in the United States and around the world. “One of the things I think is very important for me to speak out on is making sure that people are treated fairly and justly because that’s what we stand for, and I believe that that’s a precept that’s not unique to America. That’s just something that should apply everywhere,” he said.

27 comments
Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official on Wednesday deflected Western criticism of the so-called anti-gay law, saying the recently adopted legislation did not violate the rights of sexual minorities in the country but was aimed at protecting minors.

“As to the criticism of our law banning homosexual propaganda we have to reiterate that this criticism is absolutely invalid and groundless,” said the Foreign Ministry's rights envoy, Konstantin Dolgov.

“It is an attempt to accuse us of violating international obligations that do not exist,” he said.

On the contrary, he said, Russia is party to a number of international conventions and agreements that prohibit discrimination on any grounds, including the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“This convention aims in part to protect children from harmful information, and we believe that promotion of homosexuality could harm them,” Dolgov said.

“Therefore, we are fulfilling our obligations, but our critics attempt to accuse us of violating some obligations that don’t exist. It is a misleading substitution of notions,” the official said.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

Obama's refusal from the summit with Putin called "more constructive", because Obama was offended by Russia. However invitation from the Russian side remains in force. I hope that Obama wipe the tears away, and cease to behave like a spoiled child.

If Barak Obama will find at least one legal basis in Russian law, under which we may return a human rights activist Snowden, we promise to consider such a request. But there are no such grounds. So look for the guilty in the United States, either declare that no one is to blame and then this question will cease to poison Russian-American relations.

 Before you accuse Russia of violating any human rights, Barack Obama would do well to look in the mirror.

 During Obama's presidency the USA has not expanded its international legal obligations in the humanitarian field and still participates only in three out of nine core human rights treaties. The Americans have not so far ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (only Somalia and South Sudan has not also acceded to it). The main outstanding issue is an abhorrent Guantanamo prison. President B. Obama sanctioned indefinite and extrajudicial detention and the resumption of military tribunals.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

"Obama has repeatedly stated that Assad must leave power"

Bashar Assad is a legitimate President of a sovereign country.

From the point of view of international law between the USA and Syria - sovereign equality.

With the same success Bashar al-Assad can repeatedly say: "Barack Obama must go"

 Let Barack Obama begins to inject some gay rights,for example, in the Saudi Arabia. And we will see how he will cope with this work. Russia is not going to impose for gay any special rights. They are not disabled. Their rights are the same as the others.

btt1943
btt1943

It does not pay for Obama to snub Putin. Chances are such attitude may indirectly force Russia to get much closer and warmer towards China. When Beijing and Moscow talk on the same frequency on politics, economy and military, they will become real assertive and formidable. The west would shiver and lose out whatever superiority eventually.

paolovalente
paolovalente

What a crybaby. Seriously grow up Obama. I wonder how the athletes feel about this :/

MaxWright1
MaxWright1

Dear Mr. President,

 with all due respect, sir, NO $H!T!! You DUMBA$$. What did you think would happen?

 "Oh I'm gonnna hit the reset button with Russia. Just wait till I get re-elected..."

Why are you so dense?

 Why can't you see that we have enemies who will screw us over the first chance they get? Here is a news flash for you, B: The Russians are NOT our friends! And Putin is an evil man who need to leave power ASAP.

Now get to work you dip stick!

BillC
BillC

I am the only one who sees this as the tip of the iceberg. While we pull further away from Russia, they will get closer to China. This is only going to add to what will be devastating to our country...when Russia and China get the new gold backed global reserve currency they want. That is going to hit us hard and Russia and China have already been talking about it for years.

DanEngland
DanEngland

President Obama did the right thing. Putin is a terrible man and all who appease that KGB tyrant are deceived.
And those who are upset with Obama over the NSA, if you are a terrorist be very afraid.
Good for the President for cancelling.

Ereks
Ereks

No patience with countries that don't allow gay freedom. That's also prejudice. Rubbing over most parts of the body induces pleasant feelings. Then there is the sexual touch. Who you touch or do not touch sexually is subject  to personal inhibitions. Some have less inhibitions, some more and some have none at all. With no inhibitions mother and son can indulge; an adult can indulge the desire for sexual pleasure with a child; or it can be beast with man/woman. Without inhibitions we will end up with madness.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Any position can be justified with good rhetoric and sophistry but it is left for wise leadership within the societies to draw the lines and not leave individuals run amok. So the "civilized" west have said it is alright for consenting adults of the same gender not only to have sex but to marry if they so desire. Then because such unions cannot produce children naturally, they can adopt. The children have no say in the matter but enter as social guinea pigs into the world of two adults indulging their sexual preference for pleasure. Because psychological and mental injuries are not as obvious as those from physical assault, educated adults are having fun with words up to the supreme courts.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Gays have overcome their personal inhibitions (qualms, conscience) and, in the modern environment of moral relativity and the exaltation of personal liberties, are increasingly emboldened to push the limits. Good luck to the leadership of the civilized west  which have, one these issues, sided with pleasure over qualms but let no Obama assay to indict those societies that say NO to such practices within their environment.

AntipodeanPerspective
AntipodeanPerspective

I see that today Edward Snowden has registered as a Russian resident, having a week ago been granted a year's asylum in Russia.

While the United States has of course been pressing Russia for him to be handed over, Russia shows no signs of doing this.

As it looks more and more like Mr Snowden will be able to settle in Russia for the longer term, the United States will become increasingly uncomfortable about him being there with his skills and knowledge.

Meanwhile, President Obama is, as a result of pressures created ultimately by Mr Snowden's revelations, agreeing to countenance proposals from congressmen for changes in the way the NSA does things. [See Obama 'open to NSA surveillance reform' at meeting with lawmakers http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/01/barack-obama-congress-nsa-reform-meeting]

In other words, Edward Snowden is beginning to be seen as drawing attention to situations that that needed to be remedied.

As these situations in Russia and the United States respectively continue to unfold, the United States might mellow and find itself feeling much more comfortable with the idea of him living in a quiet, friendly place like New Zealand.

It would be useful for the New Zealand government to at least keep in touch with the United States about the possibility of him being given residency there. [cf From the Edward Snowden case to a new Switzerland of the Southern Hemisphere? http://www.village-connections.com/blog/?p=6765]

yodadog
yodadog

First off, Putin was never a head of the KGB ans secondly, the Cold War is not the past. As long as Putin is in office, it is the present and for the unseeable future-there's no telling how long he will manipulate his term(s) in office. Obama needs to see the world as it is, not as he wants. And we have plenty of Cold War history to look back on to base how we deal with this man, if the administration has what it takes to do so.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Obama probably just got tired of Putin taking off his shirt, holding staged hunting trips, and engaging in staring contests to see each other's souls? (Bet Putin tried a staring contest with Michele Bachmann but lost.)

paolovalente
paolovalente

I hope soon. Our world needs to change. The US and the EU want a world government

Heizzzenberg
Heizzzenberg

@DanEngland how about "those of us upset with Obama over the NSA"... who are not a terrorist? Should we be afraid too?

paolovalente
paolovalente

Putin is laughing at Obama right now. Lol. Obama thinks that this is a game where the US will be always in top. The petro dollar is almost over :) can't wait to see the US fall. American citizens should choose better their Gouverneur because he gives a very bad view of the American people.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@Ereks An interesting theory. Does it ever occur to you that there's such a thing as sexual attraction that doesn't apply to all objects equally? Do you need to overcome your inhibitions in order to to make love to your wife? Do you personally have an attraction to children? 

One can't help but wonder based on your peculiar theories.


jmac
jmac

@AntipodeanPerspective Why would any country be stupid enough to take him?   He can be just as destructive and paranoid and naive  in New Zealand as he was here.    He spewed information to China (and NOT through Greenwald).  There should be no mellowing on that point.  

Ereks
Ereks

@PaulDirks Factor in the sexual attraction component. Suppose a man is sexually attracted to a pig, must he yield? I think he is sick and needs a cure from such a malady. No I am not sexually attracted to children. But as a married man, I must resist the temptation whenever I feel a sexual attraction towards any other woman apart from my wife.

outsider
outsider

@jmac @AntipodeanPerspective  

And the fact that his revelations brought to light are actually illegal? 

I understand how you feel jmac - you've expressed it clearly. But i haven't heard you comment on what people are talking about regarding the surveillance. 


Snowden broke the law. But i'd like to know how you feel about what he exposed. Will you tell me? 


Personally, i don't like that the head of NSA was caught out lying to his oversight committee. And that is frightening, when you consider what else they may have lied about. 


That too, btw is illegal. But he's still in his position. And no one is yet calling for his head.

outsider
outsider

@jmac @outsider2011 @AntipodeanPerspective  

But James O'Keefe set out to purposely deceive. Snowden wen in to expose. Are you comparing ACORN's alleged sheltering of prostitutes (that was what OKeefe used to set them up) with the Surveillance program? 

I agree with your last paragraph for the most part. But, while i think the bankers (and their GOP backers) should be locked up, i'm not so eager to dismiss the head of NSA. 

As i said, the idea that he lied and got caught out this time (thanks to Snowden) means he could be lying about a whole host of other stuff. Lying to congress isn't the issue; it's lying about congress and having access to the power and information that NSA has that is a concern. 

 An extreme example (based solely on paranoia, and not fact) - how many US dissidents have been rendered as being politically undesirable? I'm sure this isn't happening (witness just about everyone in congress) - but if the head of an intelligence agency feels THAT comfortable lying to congress, who's to say it couldn't happen, and people wouldn't find out?


That is why the lying to NSA is important; and that is what Snowden exposed. The lying. 


Now, you and i agree he should be tried. He broke the law, and gave out (publicly) classified information. And he should take the heat for that. And he probably would have, if this administration wasn't so gung ho, and wanting to charge everyone with treason (the reporter, before this, Mannings treatment has been abyssal, etc).


You said it's a nation of laws. Well, one of them is don't lie to congress. Another is don't act against American interests (which the gov't did when it attacked civilians then covered it up - which is what Manning exposed, or again, the NSA lying to congress). 


You can't be selective in administering those laws. Yet it seems that the gov't is doing just that.

 

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

Inflating cheeks Barack Obama harm the image of the USA.
I think that the position of Russia in relation to the human rights activist E. Snowden is the only right one.

jmac
jmac

@outsider2011 @jmac @AntipodeanPerspective   Do I have any respect for James OKeefe and the way he went about going after ACORN, even though ACORN might have had problems and needed cleaning up?  

Does that answer your question?  The difference is James O'Keefe didn't hurt international relations and possible put some in harms way.   We are a democracy and there's a system for fighting for what's wrong in our democracy.   Congress has clearly stated that what was done was not illegal - both sides of the aisle are on agreement on that.    Obama has clearly stated that if America's are upset with the way information is collected, we can change that.  And there's clearly a system to go by.  I am not upset at all with collecting megadata on phone calls that will be destroyed in five years - whether it's Bush or Obama.   Snowden loved Bush and his wars - he bragged they made him money.   He didn't get upset about surveillance until he lost his job.  He took the Booz job just to dump - AFTER he talked to Greenwald.  

  We are a nation of laws.   If you think testimony before Congress on secret international programs is a lie and illegal, then I suggest we have a lot of people to put in jail.   The head of NSA wouldn't be top on my list.    I personally am a whole lot more concerned with putting those in jail who almost took our economy down due to pure greed (talk about doing something in secret and behind closed doors)  -   because it's going to happen again.  That threat is so much bigger to me than what the CIA and NSA is doing to try to keep us safe.