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America and Russia: No speaks


Downhill from there

CAN America do business with Vladimir Putin? During his first term, President Barack Obama invested much time and effort in seeking a positive answer to that question. The White House’s announcement, on August 7th, that Mr Obama was cancelling a Moscow summit with his Russian counterpart, shows how far the Americans have drifted towards concluding that the answer may, in fact, be mostly negative.The immediate cause of the cancelled bilateral summit—which will not prevent Mr Obama from attending a meeting of G20 leaders in St Petersburg on September 5th and 6th—was Russia’s grant of temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, the ex-spook on the run after leaking details of spying on global phone and e-mail records by America’s National Security Agency. Congress, not to mention public opinion, would have been outraged had Mr Obama carried on with summitry-as-usual.But the White House set its decision in a wider context, listing frustrations predating the Snowden crisis, from a lack of progress on missile defence and trade wrangles to the treatment of Russian civil society. There was offsetting talk of areas where Russia…

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