Old wounds appear to be opening between Russia and the US over Moscow's decision to grant asylum to Edward Snowden.

Relations between the US and Russia have hit a new low, with Barack Obama, the US president, openly stating that their partnership just is not working.

Washington is still fuming at Moscow's decision to grant temporary asylum to US whistleblower Edward Snowden, and now Obama has pulled out of talks with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

"I think the latest episode is just one more in a number of emerging differences that we've seen over the last several months - around Syria, around human rights issues - where it is probably appropriate for us to take a pause, reassess where it is that Russia's going, what our core interests are, and calibrate the relationship so that we're doing things that are good for the United States, and hopefully good for Russia as well, but recognising that there are just going to be some differences and we're not going to be able to completely disguise them," Obama declared.

The Russians have called the decision disappointing. But while Snowden may have been the catalyst, Obama and Putin have never been close and differing positions on Syria, missile defence and human rights issues are also a factor in the deteriorating relations.

Russia has been criticised over its treatment of homosexuals after Putin signed a law in June banning what the Russian government calls "gay propaganda".

The law imposes fines on anyone taking part in gay pride demonstrations, or anyone considered to be making homosexuality appear attractive to minors.

The law has triggered outrage across the globe, with some calling for next year's Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi to be cancelled or held elsewhere.



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Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on August 12, 2013 at 11:46pm

I agree with President Obama. The GLBT athletes should bring home some gold and silver instead.

Comment by Loren Miller on August 12, 2013 at 11:27pm

The hell of it is, the IOC should have recognized Russia's potential to act like this, particularly with Putin in the driver's seat.  The fact is that moving the games is an enormously expensive and involved process from a logistical point of view.  If it were practical to deny Moscow and Sochi the winter games and relocate them, I would say, "do so and quickly," but my suspicion is that the will isn't there, and if it were, the money wouldn't be.

Therefore, for those who would protest against Russia's irrational attitude and attack against the GLBT community, I would suggest that all athletes, coaches, support personnel and visitors who wish to support this fight find themselves one of these:

and wear it during the games.  Putin needs to understand that there are things beyond his control, people beyond his control, that all his power and influence will not deliver to him on a silver platter.

If we can't move the games, let's get this issue in Putin's face, repeatedly, irrevocably, so that he can't avoid it and can't act against it without looking like the undisciplined thug that he is.

Comment by David Layton on August 12, 2013 at 10:53pm

I do not think so. The problem is that Russia never reconciled itself to being a second-rate empire, not ever and not now. Putin is trying hard to maintain the illusion of Russian superiority by appeals to nationalistic and ethnic stupidity. All of this posturing against "Western" values, i.e. against perceived American social dominance, has more to do with internal Russian politics than with international relations.

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on August 12, 2013 at 10:00pm

Comment by Loren Miller on August 12, 2013 at 9:57pm

Putin would love that.  He's old school, KGB, and I think he wants to go back to the "old days" when it was the US against the Soviet Union.  It's what he knows, it's familiar to him, and that's what he wants to recreate.  I think Obama's smart enough not to give him his wish.

Other people?  I'm not so certain.

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