Putin’s Uninvited Guest

Julia Ioffe doubts the Russians are interested in providing Snowden with a quick exit now that he’s stuck in Moscow:

I’m going to make a prediction here: Snowden isn’t going to Ecuador. He’s staying in Russia. Why? Because that’s what “free men” with troves of valuable data—just look at how hard the White House is fighting to get him back—and even more valuable revenge potential do when they take a strange detour to South America through Moscow and, mysteriously, get stuck. …

Putin said that Russian security services—which, again, are swarming the airport—”have not and are not working” with Snowden. Feels like there’s a missing word there, like, oh, I don’t know, “yet.” I’m going to call bullshit on that one, but if you don’t believe me, listen to Ellen Barry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Moscow Bureau Chief for the Times. “If #Snowden’s been at Sheremetyevo all this time but FSB did not approach, it’s like a hungry man looking at a hamburger and not touching it,” she tweeted. (A Russian security source told a Reuters reporter that “he is a tasty morsel for any, any, secret service, also for ours.”)

I promise you, dear reader, that that hamburger—or tasty morsel—will get eaten, if it hasn’t been devoured already.

Michael Hirsh suspects Putin is having a field day:

Whatever Putin may be saying now about not wanting to harm ”the business-like character of our relations with the U.S.,” it is evident that Russia’s foreign policy is largely shaped by its leader’s desire to meddle with America and its designs around the world. That is true whether the issue is Syria (with Putin backing Bashar al-Assad against the U.S.-aided rebels); Iran (where Moscow opposes too-stringent sanctions and is building a reactor); or missile defense (where Putin pressured President Obama to retreat from a missile-defense system, angering the Poles and the Czech Republic). Above all, Putin was incensed by the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law named after a murdered Russian lawyer under which the U.S. government can penalize Russian human-rights abuses. And he has built his entire rise to power on the idea of resurrecting the prestige and geopolitical impact of his former employer–the USSR — if not exactly its communist system.

Fred Weir, on the other hand, interviews a Russian analyst who thinks Putin more likely views Snowden as a risk:

[Professor Andrei] Konovalov suggests there could be a reason closer to home for Russian authorities to hold Snowden at arms length. It’s one thing for the Kremlin’s English-language satellite news network Russia Today, known as RT, to lionize information leakers such as Assange and Snowden, and quite another for domestic Russian audiences to see Putin openly embracing an idealist bent on ripping the lid off government secrets.