There are two big foreign policy stories in the news these days and it seems significant that Russian President Putin is integrally involved in both. The picture above was taken at a G8 meeting in June when President Obama said that the US was going to provide arms to some Syrian rebels. Obviously Putin wasn't happy with that decision because Russia has been backing the Assad regime - his closest ally in the Middle East.
Now that Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people and President Obama is proposing military intervention against him, Russia is determined to veto any UN Security Council resolution condemning Assad or supporting President Obama's call for the international community to respond. But apparently obstruction at the UN isn't enough for Putin. He is actually preparing to lobby the US Congress to vote against the President. I certainly hope the media will follow this story and let us know which members of Congress are open to being lobbied by the Russian government (cough...Rand Paul...cough).
The other story of course involves Edward Snowden. Shortly after the picture above was taken, he fled to Hong Kong and began leaking the classified documents he'd stolen from the NSA. We now know that not only did Snowden wind up getting legal representation from a Russian lawyer with ties to the FSB (formerly the KGB), he eventually received asylum in Russia. Now we also know that wasn't simply because he got stranded at the Russian airport. As a matter of fact, he stayed at the Russian consulate in Hong Kong for a few days prior to his flight there.
We've previously looked at the connection between Julian Assange (Wikileaks) and Russia. The WaPo story reporting on Snowden's stay in the Russian consulate ends with this.
The article [in the Russian newspaper Kommersant] implies that Snowden’s decision to seek Russian help came after he was joined in Hong Kong by Sarah Harrison, a WikiLeaks staff member who became his adviser and later flew to Moscow with him.As Snowden's revelations have recently begun to be less about domestic concerns and more designed to undermine US foreign policy around the world, one has to wonder about Putin's role in all this.
Harrison, the article suggests, had a role in making the plans.
Just so you don't worry that I've donned my tin-foil hat in making these connections, check out what Glenn Greenwald retweeted yesterday.
So the policy is to quietly fuel a slow-bleed civil war that nobody wins? If so, Russia's Syria policy is more morally decent.
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) September 3, 2013
Yep, things have gotten pretty weird in this saga when American reporters are suggesting that Putin's policy of backing a regime that used chemical weapons against its own people is preferable to our own policy against such crimes.