WASHINGTON DC – US President Barack Obama has confronted Russia over its granting of asylum to fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, saying Moscow occasionally displays a “Cold War mentality.”
During an appearance on a late-night comedy show Tuesday, Obama said Moscow was still being helpful in Afghanistan and on counter-terrorism but spoke of “underlying challenges that we have had with Russia lately.”
“There have been times where they flip back in the Cold War thinking and in a Cold War mentality,” Obama said on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
“What I consistently say to them, and what I say to President (Vladimir) Putin, is that’s the past, and we have to think about the future. And there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to cooperate more effectively than we do.”
Obama insisted he would attend next month’s G20 summit in St. Petersburg, but did not say whether he would meet with Putin for one-on-one talks.
Obama said he was “disappointed” by Russia’s decision to award one year’s temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, the former IT contractor who leaked details of vast US surveillance programs to the media.
Snowden was recently allowed to relocate to a secret safe house after being marooned in Moscow’s airport for five weeks.
Washington had revoked his passport and demanded he be sent back to face charges of espionage over the leaks, which detailed the US National Security Agency’s gathering of vast amounts of phone call logs and Internet data.