President Obama is still going to Russia this fall to attend a G20 summit, but the White House is now suggesting that he'll back out of a face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. All the coverage says it's Obama's way of making clear he's not happy about US-Russia relations at the moment, mostly because of Edward Snowden, but also over things like the sentencing of a top Putin critic to 5 years in prison, and Moscow's support of Syria, reports New York. This is Obama's way of trying to gain some leverage, according to the common refrain in stories:
- "Canceling the meeting in Moscow would be seen as a direct slap at Mr. Putin, who is known to value such high-level visits as a validation of Russian prestige," says the New York Times.
- "Canceling the summit, announced in June, would deal a blow to Obama administration efforts to smooth relations with Russia and would be a direct challenge to Putin’s prestige," says Bloomberg, noting that Putin is the current G20 president.
- "By simply considering cancellation of the trip, the Obama administration is indicating its concern the Kremlin will allow Snowden to take refuge in Russia," says AP.