Russia's decision to allow former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden one year of asylum could jeopardize hopes for new nuclear arms control negotiations between the two nations, Foreign Policy reported on Thursday.
Some Republican lawmakers have called for Washington to punish Moscow for granting refuge to the former NSA contractor. White House spokesman Jay Carney this week said that a planned fall summit in Moscow between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin is now being reevaluated.
The summit had been seen as a likely venue for the two leaders to discuss areas of disagreement on missile defense and the possibility of new bilateral strategic nuclear weapon cuts, which Obama proposed in a June speech in Berlin.
"There have always been ups and downs in the U.S. and Russia relationship (but) we appear to be in one of those down periods," Kingston Reif, nuclear nonproliferation director at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, said in an interview.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf sought to separate the Snowden controversy from the broader bilateral relationship.
"We're not going to stop engaging them on Syria, on the way forward, on missile defense, on any of these issues because one meeting does or does not happen," she said.
Also now in jeopardy are the four-way talks that had been planned for next week between U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and their Russian equivalents, Reuters reported. The defense and diplomacy talks are currently "up in the air," an anonymous U.S. official said.