While the United States could cancel several upcoming meetings in Russia to protest Moscow's decision to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, one Russian expert does not expect the U.S. to take any further steps that could cause a serious chill in bilateral relations.
Said Fyodor Lukyanov, head of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council, "Concerning the 2+2 [bilateral foreign and defense ministers] meeting scheduled for next week, its cancellation is very likely due to the fact that emotions are still high over Snowden's being granted asylum. Even before asylum was granted to Snowden, authorized leaks went round that Obama's visit to Moscow would be in jeopardy. Once said, all of this - if Snowden's asylum is not recalled - is something Obama will find difficult to ignore," he said.
But Lukyanov noted that Obama would be unlikely to skip the September G20 summit, even if he cancelled the planned one-on-one meeting with Putin. "Boycotting the G20 summit would be an insult not only to the hosting country, but also to the rest of the members. I think Obama will arrive in St. Petersburg in any case," he said.
"There are no issues that need to be discussed urgently with Putin in a separate meeting in September," Lukyanov continued.
Asked what other steps, besides the cancellation of planned meetings and talks, Washington might take, Lukyanov said, "no serious moves that would derail bilateral relations are likely to be taken, the more so since there is nothing to derail and the agenda is extremely narrow."
"Economic cooperation is so thin that there is really nothing to curtail. The cooperation currently maintained meets the Americans' interests rather than those of Russians, so it would be unwise to do anything to the detriment of this cooperation. Economic sanctions urged by Congress are unlikely, I think, since they would run counter to the rules of the World Trade Organization, which Russia was in the process of being drawn into for so long," he also said.
"But the United States may extend the Magnitsky List in reaction to the Snowden situation," Lukyanov added. "The Magnitsky List was adopted exactly as a universal instrument of pressure."
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