The Superpower rivalry in international politics is not unfamiliar to scholars of international affairs. The forty-five years of cold conflict or the Cold War, mad rush for arms race and nuclear armament and the eagerness to spread the ideologies of free market capitalism and communism marked the United States- Soviet Union relations until the latter disintegrated in the year 1990.
While better sense has prevailed among the leadership since then and steps have been taken to bridge misunderstandings and cut back nuclearlisation, yet at several occasions like the Kosovo Crisis, the Chechnya crisis, and others have put the two former superpowers on opposite sides.
The Russian espionage operations under Vladimir Putin in 2007 was less known, but it went a long way to incite the US to do the same, which was unfortunately made known to the world by the former American National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden. Snowden, a computer expert who had also worked for the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) leaked top-secret mass telephone and internet surveillance programs of the US and the Great Britain to the press, charged by the US prosecutors of espionage was allowed to stay at the transit zone of Russia’s airport and then granted temporary asylum by the Russian authorities.
This action by the Putin government came as a rude shock and extreme disappointment to the US and subsequently led to the cancelling of the Obama-Putin meeting that was scheduled in September 2013 by the US. Russia accused the US that because the US wanted to avoid signing of an extradition treaty with it, the US used Snowden as the scapegoat to further deny Russian extradition requests. It is also seen as an extension of the anti-Americanism that has seen a marked rise in Russia over the past few years, fueled by perceptions of American hypocrisy on human rights issues as well as the Obama administration’s failure to treat Russia like a relevant global power.
While the US credited Russia for its cooperation in the Boston bombings case, yet the White House statement acknowledged the Snowden matter was a factor that was considered in assessing the current state of the bilateral relationship and that it was not a positive development towards the US- Russian relations.
The cancellation of the Moscow Summit is understood to be a conduct by the US through which serious negotiations with Russia would be possible, which is doubly affected by the pressures from the Capitol Hill and criticism from the media.
However, analysts opine that there are other issues that occupy the center stage of US-Russian relations like the bilateral geopolitical issues, Syria, Iran, missile defense, nuclear arms reductions which are more important than Snowden affecting the relationship towards the negative. Nevertheless, though the Snowden affair might have been the minor miscalculation that
shook the foundations of US-Russian relations, just because it was intended or unintended, it does not stand the hypotheses that it cannot an intense and irreversible impact on relations between the two countries.
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