How Obama’s Putin Snub Is Playing Out in Russia

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Ross D. Franklin / AP

President Barack Obama waves from the steps of Air Force One as he prepares to depart Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after giving a speech on housing and the middle class on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, in Phoenix.

On Wednesday evening, when U.S. President Obama cancelled his upcoming visit to Moscow, the Russian reaction was perhaps most clear in the way that Vesti, the state’s main propaganda TV channel, conveyed it on the channel’s website. Buried about half way down on the page, underneath a story about Russian tourists in Turkey, Vesti announced: “The invitation for Obama stands.” Beside that was the somewhat diversionary headline: “Barack Obama will travel to St. Petersburg for the G20 summit.” The actual news — that Obama had decided not to meet with his Russian counterpart before, after or during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg next month — was clearly not something the official spin doctors wanted to advertise.

After a year spent honing their anti-American rhetoric — on issues ranging from the adoption of Russian children to missile defense in Europe and the civil war in Syria — the Kremlin message makers were suddenly eager to claim that President Vladimir Putin didn’t really mean for things to go this far. “Sure, Putin uses this rhetoric, but it’s not so much anti-American as anti-Euro-Atlantic,” says Evgeny Minchenko, a Kremlin-connected political strategist. “And keep in mind that he has tried to stop short of a head-on collision.”

(MORE: Obama Cancels Putin Summit Over Snowden, Syria, Human Rights)

But a head-on collision is what Putin got, and he has very little to show for it. The assumed cause of the cancelled visit was Russia’s decision last week to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, who is wanted in the U.S. for leaking the secrets of American intelligence agencies. “It’s clear that this decision is linked to the situation we did not cause, [the one] reguarding the former American special services employee Snowden,” said Putin’s top foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, adding that the Kremlin was “disappointed” by Obama’s decision. “The U.S. is still not ready to build relations on an equitable basis,” Ushakov told Russian news agencies.

(MORE: 7 Things Edward Snowden Should Do in Russia)

Putin has not yet replied to Obama’s snub, but most experts found it hard to see how he could spin it in his favor. “He can again say that he did not bow to American demands, that he did not obey,” says Alexander Konovalov, an expert on U.S.-Russia affairs at the Moscow Institute of International Relations. But that message has grown hackneyed over the past year of bickering between Moscow and Washington, so it will not earn him many points with the domestic electorate, adds Konovalov.

The only ones who seemed to be celebrating Obama’s snub on Wednesday were some of Putin’s harshest critics. “Putin thrives on these joint appearances to show his cronies that he’s an equal on the global stage despite his lack of credentials, and that he can protect their interests abroad,” says Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who helped lead the anti-Putin protests last year. “I’m glad Obama is finally showing some spine with regard to Putin,” he says. “This cancellation is a welcome start.”

But other opposition leaders were less sanguine. Leonid Gozman, a liberal politician, said Obama could have done more for the opposition’s cause by showing up in Moscow as planned. “He could at least have met with activists, spoken at a university, explained his message in an interview to the Russian press,” Gozman says. “Back in 1972, our country was like a concentration camp without fences, and Nixon still came to meet Brezhnev. They ended up talking through their problems. Everybody won.” But those were the days of detente between Moscow and Washington — a word that hardly applies to the current state of affairs.

MORE: Snowden Gets Russian Asylum and Leaves Moscow Airport, Finally

275 comments
MartinHerrigan
MartinHerrigan

"Psssst,, you are the enemy"  ,, "No, you are the enemy" ..  No, no, I was the enemy last time, so you be the enemy this time, okay? ..  "We will prepare and use the 'terrorists', the 'rebels', the 'freedom fighters' and the religiously mentally unbalanced people, as and when needed, agreed?  ..  "Agreed, and after 'the war' we will say "Never again",, buhahahahahaha".


OlpeMurphy
OlpeMurphy

Putin has not yet replied to Obama’s snub, but most experts found it hard to see how he could spin it in his favor. "

The "experts"?

I am so sick of an arrogant media attempting to tell me what to think.

Just put the FACTS out there, and I'll make up my own mind.

Since the media has spent FIVE YEARS hiding the FACTS about Barack Hussein Obama, I would trust the media about as much as a trust a Palestinian terrorist.


EugeneKeyProgramming
EugeneKeyProgramming

The problem really for US is not Syria but Russia, the impending strike/war is a game of military show casing, the US is not happy about Russian military advanced hardware getting to the Syrians cos it will pose serious threat to the isrealites and possibly change the balance of power in that region which is not in their interest.

WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

The real problem isn't Snowden, it's Syria.

Russia is giving advanced anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to Assad _with the intent_ that they will be used against US ships and aircraft enforcing the announced no-fly zone.

Regio121
Regio121

There's and always easy to blame a president, when in fact we are the ones that elected (30 years and counting), the one Whom was and has been elect the democratic way. The main question we should ask ourselves Can we make reasonable choices or let the corporations whom allies with our political Parties, to get away with anything they proposed. Corporations get big bonus and profits, while the middle and low class gets stuck with the some song.

EnzyteBob
EnzyteBob

It's kind of funny the way the pendulum swings. the USSR in the 1970's was like something out of a dystopian movie. Big brother was everywhere and the Russian press was a laughing stock printing government propaganda that was laughingly disconnected from the truth. Fast-forward 40 years and the tables have turned, except that it's the United States in the shoes of the former Soviet Union and the mainstream media carrying the water for our dear leader. It's like the mainstream media has taken the baton from Pravda and has started to post glowing wheat harvest reports while there is famine and the nation is starving.

As somebody with Eastern European roots I can tell you 2 things:

1. The average person there likes Vladimir Putin.

2. Vladimir Putin got to where he is on talent, not as a C- student who was the beneficiary of affirmative action and liberal white guilt.

Let's see time spin this for El Presidente the incompetent.

Douglas StJohn
Douglas StJohn

too bad time isn't reporting this correctly... it is Putin that is snubbing obama. Putin is taking a stand against obamas evil agenda.

DennisHopper
DennisHopper

cool move Putin, the rest of the world is sick and tired of the American/Western/ Military/ Industrial/banking cartel. I'm glad someone has some balls out there, even if their civil rights record is stuck in the dark ages.

moneypro
moneypro

This insane diplomacy of mine is bigger than yours is stupid.  We have all the enemies we can stand.  Maybe we should get over being the world's bully and make a few friends. 

Reagan out spent Russia and they were no longer a world power.  They are back and we under the last three presidents have spent ourselves into poverty for most of our citizens and our military now can not afford new weapons just like what happened to Russia years ago..

Tina M. Denning
Tina M. Denning

and Putin stealing the Super bowl ring...let's get them both back!

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

Surely, Putin must be losing sleep over missing another opportunity to intimidate our empty suit of a President!  Only TIME could spin this story into being some sort of brilliant tactical gambit by the White House.

In reality, Putin intimidates Obama.  Thus, any opportunity to avoid another summit meeting--and more embarrassment--is sound policy.  Not since Reagan, has the US had Russia's full attention.  How this administration, which couldn't even properly translate the word "reset" into Russian, thinks it's up to the task of meeting Putin, toe-to-toe, over anything substantial, is anybody's guess.

What used to be, "Trust...but verify," has morphed into "What ever you think is best, Vlad."

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

Thanks to Eric Holder, and the FBI, fiends like Viktor Bout are behind bars!

  He was a Russian arms dealer.

  He tried to sell arms to Colombian outlaws.

  They wanted to murder American pilots!

 The FBI nabbed him!

  Vladimir Putin has already demanded his release!

  Nyet!

  On the other hand, Bush golfed with his comrade!

  Perfectly clear?

GeoffPigman
GeoffPigman

@siZondi OBushma, outed by Snowden for spying on the people, now has bigger things to worry about than Russia.

wanigina
wanigina

@AndrewMwenda never, if so many Russians wanted back home in Russia have been offered asylum in the UK, you would be kidding the US

9kittens
9kittens

@TIME @ohiomail Talk about a country ripe for revolution...how do the Russian people stand Putin????

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

@WilfTarquin 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey: "Libyan option in Syria will not be admitted. This we guarantee" 

FrancisRupertLegge
FrancisRupertLegge

@POSDCORB  And, certainly less important than the two most powerful Nuclear nations on Earth facing off like little boys.


Aje
Aje

@EnzyteBob If you are going to criticize, try to remove your blinders, please. I have many qualms with our President, but he was not a C- student. And as bad as US democracy is currently, thanks to our corporations, its miles ahead of Russia. You do not see trumped up charges pulled left and right to keep any critic that reaches an audience larger than a roomful being thrown in jail. Not yet, though who knows the way things are going. And yep, the mainstream media is laughable, but they are biased in favor of the bottom line, the almighty dollar, not in favor of the President. I'd like to see some of the criticism of our President, which makes big ratings on certain policies in Russia for longer than a week or two before the critic ending up behind bars. Please continue to criticize our President - its a good thing that may be the only thing that prevents us from ending up like Russia. But, to say that the tables have turned is laughable. 

WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

@EnzyteBob Putin got to where he is by being the best at office politics in the KGB, and today he's surrounded himself entirely with loyal KGB officers. And the reason he's popular is because oil and gas prices have increased 560% since he came to power, making Russia rich without Putin doing anything at all.

Shoeone
Shoeone

@EnzyteBob Just to be clear, Obama earned his Harvard Law Degree, and headed the Harvard Law Review.  Putin's Economics degree was "earned" by paying for a plagiarized dissertation that was largely copied from an American textbook, and probably composed by one of Russia's many "degree mills" that produce dissertations for profit.  Putin was President Yeltsin's Chief of Staff at the time, and a year later would head the FSB.  Please stick to the facts, and leave your preconceptions at the door.  http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1067113.html  .  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama

Aje
Aje

@DennisHopper How about Stalin, he had balls too, though his people may not have been too pleased with him. Please do criticize our government, but believe it or not, just because someone can make political points with his home audience by dissing the US does not make him a hero. I say if you don't live there, you might want to try moving to Russia and see if you are still a fan of Putin after a year or two. 

programmer156
programmer156

@moneypro Russias outlook is far less rosy than you make out. Russia is facing a demographic problem, not enough people having babies and low innovation, research investment, competitiveness and productivity. Its economy is also to too narrow; the resources sector is about the only productive sector. This can lead to significant problems if resource/commodity prices drop due to recessions, conflict, etc. It does however look good in terms of government debt but thats about it. The US fares far better on all the metrics I described above except for the debt.

EnzyteBob
EnzyteBob

@Tina M. Denning - You wanna make a bet about what happened? Wanna bet that Kraft went into Putin's office, started bragging about how much money he has and generally acting like an obnoxious big shot? Wanna bet Putin was annoyed by him and this was his way of showing him who's boss?

ronwarp
ronwarp

@Juan'tAjob I can't say how I know this....but, someone who's been in Russia told me that you'll NEVER see Putin shake hands with Obama. Why? Because he's considered a Muslim by the Russians (Hmmmm....what does the KGB know that we don't???) and they detest Muslims and Islam, apparently.  So, I was hoping to see them get together to see if this really played out!  Guess we won't know now....but, I agree with your post, also.

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

@CliffordSpencer Yeah, Cliffy...Obama is a modern day Rambo!  This POTUS, who's played more golf than ANY sitting POTUS, associates and commiserates with domestic terrorists, like Bill Ayers.

You probably railed at President Bush for water-boarding, yet now, are silent as people who might have revealed information are being killed, along with anybody in their vicinity, with drone strikes.  When asked, nine out of ten terrorists called being bombed by drones to be more cruel and unusual punishment, when compared to enhanced interrogation methods.

Oh, and as far as Iraq and Afghanistan are concerned, the only thing worse than getting into conflicts with them is tucking tail and running out in a fashion where our allies, there, feel abandoned.  Iraq is destined to be a proxy for Iran and Afghanistan, Al Qaeda.

Nope, this president will be much better known for having added $10 Trillion to the National Debt, much of which was accrued by giving his constituents a bunch of handouts.  This Welfare President (who MAJORLY trumped GWB's increased spending), buys voters with Obamaphones and Food Stamps and sucks up to (pun intended) the corn-hole coalition, while golfing us into oblivion.  

He called President Bush's deficit spending, which TOTALED less than what Obama overspent in just two years, unpatriotic.  No matter HOW this White House spells "Reset" in Russian, Putin spells it, "R E L I E F."  He measured up Obama, quickly, and made him his biotch.  Perfectly clear?!?

Aje
Aje

@Sibir_Russia temper tantrum or realistic policy choice based on the fact that Russia will do whatever the hell Russia wants, much like the US does? I'd say its simply a recognition that the US/Russia relationship is dead and has been dead since Yeltsin went away. Sometimes, you just have to give it up for awhile, and pick things up later when the players are more compatible. As long as Putin is in charge, there will be no US/Russia relationship except on the basic necessities.

truthorelse
truthorelse

@9kittens @TIME @ohiomail 

they like him, thank you very much. Not something the Western propagandists  would like to admit. 


Aje
Aje

@Sibir_Russia Please don't quote RT. They are no better than US networks. How about the BBC or Al Jazeera? As for terrorists, many people have made the same mistake. The US is spending money supporting moderates (of which there are many...they are just weak, like the Syrian army) in the hopes of counterbalancing Al Qaeda. Meanwhile Russia supports the Syrian government, which has utilized Hezbollah as the only effective troops they have, to counterbalance the rebels. Hezbollah is no less terrorist than Al Qaeda, though they toned down their public acts of terrorism. So who is supporting terrorists? Neither the US nor Russia. However, both sides support groups that are allied with terrorists. 

dawnfirebird
dawnfirebird

@POSDCORB @EnzyteBob Don't be daft. The Harvard Law Review never panders to anybody because of race, creed or sex. Your president reached the top on his own merits. To argue your point it is not necessary to detract from a person's good. Obama was a high class, above average A student, a genius over achiever, the kind of person whose social skills may be a bit off. Just because you do not agree with a man's policies, does not mean that you spit on his soul. Laziness does not become you.

OlpeMurphy
OlpeMurphy

@Shoeone @EnzyteBob Obama and his wife who is lecturing everyone on how to eat (HOW WE SHOULD EAT!) were products of affirmative action (black racism), he is about as intelligent as a knothole. He is a racist, and he doesn't like whites or Christians or businessmen, especially when a person is all three.

Putin likes his country, Obama does not like his country. Putin speaks from the heart, Obama speaks from a teleprompter - that's why he is aliar - he can't rmember what the teleprompter said the previous day. "I did not draw a red line, someone else did that!"

StackPointer
StackPointer

@Shoeone @EnzyteBob Just to be clear, Obama never published a single scholarly article while at the Law Review.  

His behavior with respect to Putin was outrageous, and if there was a schoolboy in the room it was Obama, not Putin.  Obama's behavior is a national embarrassment.

EnzyteBob
EnzyteBob

@Shoeone - LOL! Barry was a C-student at Columbia and Occidental, but I guess that's good enough to get you into Harvard and labeled a genius by the denizens of liberal white guilt. Putin rose through the ranks of the KGB to run a nation. Barry is a lightweight who couldn't hold a significant job for any significant period of time. That's not tin-foil-hat stuff, those are facts.

rokisekae
rokisekae

@programmer156 @moneypro

Demographic problem? The terrorist country called usa are made up of immigrants including russians you dimwit. "DONT GO TO AMERICA, PEOPLE THERE ARE EITHER FAR OR STUPID - JEREMY CLARKSON"

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

@ronwarp...I don't doubt what your friend says...but that doesn't stop the Russians from supporting islamic regimes--Syria and Iran...and, by Iran's proxy, Iraq.  I'd suggest Putin's behavior towards Obama stems from total disrespect for our "Commander in Chief."  Even if Obama is a Kenyan muslim, an allegation which has NEVER been PROVED wrong, it's his own personality and policies which have made him Putin's doormat, not his muslim faith.

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

@Aje @Sibir_Russia As long as Putin is in charge, Russia is member in good standing in the Axis of Evil.  North Korea and Iran are bit players and Russia pulls their strings.  Russia only capitulated in response to being spent, trying to compete with the US.  Reagan made it blink...his successors...not so much.  

I don't believe even a shirtless Putin could win over the masses.  The masses, in fact, probably see little difference between Soviet rule and what they have, now.  The rich are mega-rich, and the poor are as poor as ever.  Putin's enemies are eliminated, just like in Soviet days, and Russia has amped up it's usual opposition to most everything the US wants to do.  The difference is the Russian people KNOW what they're missing, now.

Putin has intimidated Obama since day one, and Hillary's list of successes on the Russian front is...well, a lost of none...nothing.  Now, they're upping the ante in the gulf, while Obama floats trial balloons while vacillating, daily, on what he proposes to do about Syria.

Any administration with a weak foreign policy will get nowhere with the Russians.  Our current foreign policy is one of appeasement and inaction...perhaps, that's what most Americans want.  The problem with that way of thinking, in my mind, is that our enemies become emboldened, not friendlier.  Friends are nice to have, but having the world's respect is required.  Britain, our ally, bailed on Obama, saying they weren't going to get involved in Syria.  Israel is gearing up for war, not knowing if she can count on us for help.  Iran is moving full speed ahead on it's nuclear weapons program.

The world is getting scarier and, if Obama's worried, he has a strange way of showing it...

Aje
Aje

@truthorelse @TIME @ohiomail The Russian people are dumber than the American people, and that is saying a LOT. However, there is a very sizeable minority that are starting to realize they live in a gilded cage. 

truthorelse
truthorelse

@Aje @Sibir_Russia 

Real terrorists are those who invade other countries and wage wars based on lies. Real terrorists are those who kill civilians with drones and torture 'suspects'. Real terrorists used depleted uranium in Falluja causing countless horrible birth defects. In other words TERRORISTS R US.

OlpeMurphy
OlpeMurphy

@programmer156 @EnzyteBob @Shoeone yeah, anyone who criticizes Saint Barack is a racist, right? Barky Boy was the only "head" of the Harvard Law review who never penned a single word for it. What an "Editor"? Guess he was waiting for ther teleprompter to tell him what to write? 

Obama's problem is that he hates successful white people, like Putin.

Obama and Moochelle would never have gotten into correspondence school if not for the color of their skin and the scholarships funded by white taxpayers.

Oh, I just heard Obama is going to address the American people so he can "shift public opinion in his favor." Yes, that's what he said, according to ABC's Anne Compton, who has an orgasm every time Saint Barack speaks.. His arrogance is exceeded only by his stupidity. 

It's not about right and wriong, it's always about his popularity and his legacy.  

This jugeared jerk will lead us into ruin.

programmer156
programmer156

@EnzyteBob@ShoeoneWould have never thought I'd see the day that a Republican is so delusional and uninformed that they are defending the Russian President's credentials and aptitude for the sake of clumsily making the point that the current US President is not adequate.

How do you think Bush II got his Baseball Club job, his acceptance to College and his Presidency? Not so well earned I believe, isn't that your point about Obama?


Its so obvious that your position is that you just dislike the President and its not about his ability at all.


Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

@Aje...as I stated in my op, Russia hasn't had our attention, since REAGAN!  GWB, at least, set up eastern Europe's missile defense network, which Obama bailed on.

I differentiate the Russians from Putin.  Putin has re-instituted as much of the Soviet regime as he's been able to, to the detriment of the average Russian citizen.  Obama is more concerned with green technology than he is about the Russians meddling in our meddling in the middle east.

Obama's non-policy policy, in regards to Syria, is another great example of Obama's incompetence.  First, he was unilaterally going to do something...then, not so much.  His ''red line'' was crossed...then, nothing.  Now, he's defining our proposed actions in terms he hopes the American People will accept--"No boots on the ground...no open-ended strategy...shots over the bough," etc.

President Bush hasn't had a say over US foreign policy since 2008.  Sure, Obama has blamed him for all the woes we've suffered, since then...so have his apologists.  This isn't 2008, and Obama is in charge, as scary as that thought is.  Stop comparing his, to past administrations...he was going to be different...remember?

The time for speechifying has passed.  Either take out Assad with overwhelming strength...or shut up.  I doubt our public sentiment will be in favor of the use of force...if that's his concern, he just needs to shut up, something he's shown no propensity of doing.

If being Commander in Chief were easy...never mind...Obama's far from the first president with fuzzy convictions...

Aje
Aje

@Juan'tAjob @ronwarp How is Russia's behavior any different towards Obama than it was towards "Get a room guys" Bush and his looking into Putin's eyes and seeing his soul, then getting stomped on left and right as Putin ignored anything coming out of the White House. Its about Russia choosing to find its own policy path and stature, so to speak, by opposing US policy. It worked for the Soviets and it works to a much lesser degree for Russia.

truthorelse
truthorelse

@Aje @truthorelse @TIME @ohiomail 

"Russian people are dumber then Americans" - LOL. You are entitled to your arrogant ignorance but it is laughable. As for 'gilded cage' - ours isn't even gilded. It is sliding into outright fascism and police state while the starry eyed sheeple are still insisting that 'they' hate us for our freedom. Did you know that 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans believe that Obama is responsible for poor response to Katrina?