From the Washington Post:
“President Obama canceled a planned meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid mounting anger over Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the White House said Wednesday.
Obama had intended to visit Russia’s capital and meet with Putin in advance of next month’s Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg. But he has decided he will not meet with Putin one-on-one — a rare diplomatic snub — and will attend only the G-20 summit.”
Contrast this with last year’s “I will transmit this information to Vladimir” incident. At that time, it seemed that the Obama Administration would give in to Russian demands once the threat of losing reelection was removed. But now, more than nine months since the election, President Obama is tougher than ever on Russia. Granted that’s not saying much given the past four years, but it’s a good start.
Russia is still fighting the Cold War two decades after it ended. There is still a vast amount of suspicion and hostility towards the West, and it shows in the way Russia supports the regimes in Syria and Iran. It shows when they persecute LGBT people and beat them in the streets. It shows when they shelter a wanted fugitive.
But Russia is doing itself no favors by trying to mess with the United States. Putin runs a country with a stagnant economy and a dwindling population. Russia’s big money export, natural gas, has seen a dramatic drop in price over the past few years. This has crippled their economic leverage over their neighbors, with the once powerful threat of a pipeline cutoff becoming less and less frightening every year.
Like many a man insecure in his masculinity, Russia is trying to combat its impotence through overcompensating gesticulations of power. But the truth is that Russia is a shadow of the former Soviet Union, a paper bear shivering in the cold of a long Siberian winter.