New low for US-Russian relations as Barack Obama snubs Vladimir Putin

US President shows his frustration at Moscow’s decision to grant Edward Snowden asylum

President Barack Obama has pulled out of a summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in a deliberate show of frustration at Moscow’s decision last week to give temporary asylum to the American fugitive Edward Snowden.

The rare diplomatic rebuke will deepen the chill over a relationship that had already become frosty to a point reminiscent of the cold war. Areas of tension range from the bloodshed in Syria, missile defence in Europe and US criticism of Russia on human rights.

Mr Obama, who earlier accused Russia of slipping back “into cold-war thinking”, will nonetheless attend a meeting of the Group of 20 nations in St Petersburg on 5 September. He was to have travelled from there to Moscow for bilateral discussions with Mr Putin. That will no longer happen.

Pressure had been building on Mr Obama at home to respond firmly to Russia for allowing Mr Snowden to leave Moscow airport, where he had been holed up for weeks, and take up a temporary residency there.

Washington had made clear its desire to see Mr Snowden returned to US soil to face possible espionage charges arising from his leaking of details of surveillance programmes run by the National Security Agency.

US officials were at pains last night to insist that communications between the two countries were by no means being severed because of the summit pull-out. A meeting tomorrow in Washington between the US Secretaries of State and Defence, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, with their Russian counterparts was still on.

“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,” national security spokesman Ben Rhodes said.

The Kremlin said the invitation to Mr Obama remained open and normal co-operation would continue. “Russian representatives are ready to continue working together with American partners on all key issues on the bilateral and multilateral agenda,” Foreign Ministry advisor Yuri Ushakov said. But he added that the scuppering of the summit by the US showed its inability to pursue ties with Moscow on an “equal footing”.

Mr Ushakov suggested Mr Snowden was an American problem that Russia did not ask to become involved in. “This decision is clearly linked to the situation with Snowden, which hasn’t been created by us,” he said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed to the general malaise in US-Russia ties. “Given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defence and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights… we have informed the Russian government we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda,” he said.

But he also made clear that the Snowden affair may have been a tipping point, saying: “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”.

The President aired his frustration during an appearance on the Jay Leno talk show broadcast  hours before the decision to withdraw from the summit was made public. “There have been times where they slip back into cold-war thinking and a cold-war mentality,” he said.  “What I say to President Putin, is that’s the past and we’ve  got to think about the future.”

Support for Mr Obama’s decision was swift from his own party. “Putin is acting like a schoolyard bully and doesn’t deserve the respect a bilateral summit would have accorded him,” Charles Schumer, a Democrat Senator from New York, said.

The souring of the ties accelerated last year when the US passed legislation allowing sanctions against Russia for human rights violations and Moscow blocked the adoption of Russian babies by Americans.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Pistorius leaves Pretoria High Court to be taken to prison

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Life and Style

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Life and Style

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems and Network Administrator

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: We are recruiting for a Systems and ...

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Group: English as an Additional Langua...

Nursery assistants required in Cambridgeshire

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

History Teacher

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album