But it appears that the president's refusal to hold talks with Putin in Moscow next month doesn't in fact constitute a rupture in conversations between the two countries, which will continue at other levels. It's better viewed as a clear but calibrated expression of displeasure over the Russian government's granting of asylum to Edward Snowden and its growing hostility to political dissent, civil rights and the activities on Russian soil of international human-rights groups. Russia also oppresses its gay and lesbian citizens. Last week, the country's sports minister said it would enforce a new law against "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," including gay pride demonstrations, during the
In announcing that Obama wouldn't engage in talks with Putin, the
By "Cold War thinking," Obama was most likely referring to Putin's decision to shelter Snowden as if he were a defector from the enemy. But that's just one example; the current Russian government too often has relapsed into heavy-handedness similar to that of the Soviet Union. And a vein of xenophobia runs through policies as diverse as the Kremlin's crackdown on organizations that promote democracy to a law banning the adoption of Russian orphans by American couples.