Quote of Day: Putin on his “American Partners”

“If he wants to go somewhere and they accept him, please, be my guest…If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: He must cease his work aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, as strange as it may sound from my lips.” Vladimir Putin on Edward Snowden, in today’s NY Times.

Not sure whether I was more taken aback by Putin’s claim that he wanted to prevent someone from inflicting damage on his “American partners” (see, for example, Ryan Fogle, Bashar al-Assad, or Robert Kraft), or that he seemed to have a sense of humor about it!

More seriously, I wonder if Putin has found himself in a bit of a bind.  Snowden has become quite popular in Russia – not the least because he probably was a great tool for the regime to bolster its claim of the US as a threat to Russian national security, Putin’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding – but I wonder if Putin is beginning to have second thoughts about having someone around long term who has made his name arguing that regimes shouldn’t monitor the online behavior of their citizens (and the NY Times article also reports that Snowden has withdrawn his application for asylum in Russia).  Perhaps this bit of tongue-in-cheek is really aimed at domestic audiences – “look, we’re all in on the joke to be pretending the help the Americans here, but not really….” as a bit of slight of hand while they simultaneously eschew responsibility for Snowden long-term.

One Response to Quote of Day: Putin on his “American Partners”

  1. Ted Anagnoson July 3, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Well, I thought Putin’s remark was hilarious, and so so so telling – after all, what is Putin’s background? A spy. And what is Edward Snowden? A really loose cannon. Who knows what he will say or when or where – the most interesting thing about this whole adventure is that Snowden really didn’t plan it – he didn’t know where he was going to go, and Tom Friedman’s lesson is really clear – the world is flat, there are very few places he can go for the long term, if any, and a change of government or change of heart could send him back in a flash. A wonderful incident to illustrate many points!