After receiving temporary asylum from Moscow, Edward Snowden gave a statement on the WikiLeaks website, saying, "The law is winning." Russia — a country that disregards some of its citizens’ fundamental rights — has granted him his victory, with Putin’s opposition going as far as to liken it to a new regime of terror. It’s one of the many paradoxes of the Snowden case — the former CIA and American intelligence employee who exposed the biggest global power’s obsession with spying on the whole planet.
Unlike China, who cautiously got rid of this killjoy so as not to further complicate its relations with Washington, Russia has apparently chosen confrontation. The American justice system demanded on multiple occasions that the 30-year-old data processor, who is accused of spying, be returned. This is in spite of the absence of an extradition agreement between the two countries.
Moscow gave this decision some careful consideration. It had been five weeks since the “most wanted [fugitive] on the planet” had taken refuge in its international airport’s transit zone. There is no doubt that there were a number of Russian interests that were responsible for this decision, a decision which will complicate relations between the two major Cold War enemies. Following the 2009 “reset,” which was started by the first Obama administration and led to an encouraging treaty reducing the number of missiles held between the two countries, everything has slowed to a stop since Putin’s return to the presidency. From now on, there will be no more talk of building a “strategic partnership,” as was previously stated by Hillary Clinton about Medvedev’s time in office.
The American president’s recent propositions in Berlin, which aimed to reduce nuclear weapons, were immediately swept aside. A disapproving review of the American anti-missile program in Europe did nothing to further convince Moscow of Washington’s better intentions. Anti-American defiance maintained by the Kremlin for the purpose of national unity is in full swing again. Russia is far from being the only entity responsible for this rupture in relations. After the U.S. Congress voted for the Magnitsky Act, which allows the punishment of Russian officials for human rights violations — a measure that has been enraging the Kremlin for the past year — Putin had the perfect opportunity for revenge in Snowden. This is an excellent catch for the Russian intelligence community and a very useful pawn in the president’s game.