President Barack Obama is canceling plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next month — a rare diplomatic snub. The move is retribution for Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, who is accused of leaking highly secretive details about National Security Agency surveillance programs. It also reflects growing U.S. frustration with Russia on several issues, including missile defense and human rights.
The controversy over the anti-gay law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin is gaining a lot of steam since its implementation nearly two months ago. The law bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations around minors.” In other words, prohibited are gay pride rallies, displaying a rainbow flag and gays displaying any public affection toward each other. Gay rights groups have denounced it as a violation of human rights.
The shift in economic focus might sound very much like the U.S. pivot to Asia, and Russia has indeed begun to reassert its military presence in the Asia-Pacific like the United States and other regional powers. What is different, however, is that Moscow has taken great pains to emphasize that its primary goal is to cooperate, not compete, with Beijing. Russia denies that there is even the slightest element of trying to contain China in its regional policy.
After taking office, Chinese President Xi Jinping chose Russia for his first stop abroad, met with his counterpart Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and signed a series of treaties. This demonstrates the close strategic relations the two countries enjoy.
The setback was so striking that President Vladimir Putin picked up the phone at 4 am on Thursday and ordered a surprise drill of 36 Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea. The political goal was to flood Russian TV news with images of pretend naval heroics in the Black Sea. Ideally, this would distract attention from Russia’s real defeat in the neighboring Mediterranean Sea last week, when the financial currency controls froze as much as $30 billion in Russian deposits on the island.
The plan to end the Nunn-Lugar program appears to be the latest step by the Russian government in an expanding effort to curtail American-led initiatives, and especially the influence of American money, in various spheres of Russian public policy.
On Thursday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expressed his excitement over the 3-month-old black terrier puppy he had received as a gift from his Russian counterpart. “He is a good dog and beautiful,” Chavez told a Russian delegation in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, according to the Associated Press. ”I’m going to call him ‘Russian’.”
Japan and Russia are working to set up the participation of their leaders in a judo-related event in Vladivostok, as part of an initiative to strengthen bilateral ties through "judo diplomacy," it was learned Saturday.