A senior Kremlin official has described US-Russian relations as too important to hold off following the American president’s call for a “pause” in the ties.
“What pause can there be if active contacts are ongoing, including between key ministers?” Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov is cited as saying Tuesday in a RIA Novosti report.
The development comes just days after US President Barack Obama called off a Moscow summit in September with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of a G20 forum in St. Petersburg, citing the Kremlin’s decision to grant a temporary political asylum to intelligence whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Ushakov, the report adds, went as far as insisting that the putting Moscow-Washington relations on hold would be “impossible” to achieve.
“Whether Obama comes or not, the relationship is so important that it is impossible to drive it into an impasse,” said the Kremlin official in response to reporter’s queries about Obama’s call for pausing bilateral ties.
Citing Moscow’s granting of asylum to Snowden, Obama stated on Friday that “I think the latest episode is just one more in a number of emerging differences that we’ve seen over the last several months.”
“It is probably appropriate for us to take a pause, reassess where it is that Russia is going, what our core interests are, and calibrate the relationship so that we’re doing things that are good for the United States and, hopefully, good for Russia as well,” Obama said.
Obama further expressed his frustration with the Kremlin and his Russian counterpart on a recent TV show.
"There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality," Obama said. "And what I consistently say to them, and what I say to President Putin, is that's the past and we've got to think about the future, and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to cooperate more effectively than we do."
Moreover, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who announced the decision to cancel Obama’s Moscow visit, cited lack of progress in US-Russia ties on several issues.
"We believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda," he said in a statement. "Russia's disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship."
Edward Snowden is a former contractor to CIA and US National Security Agency (NSA) who blew the whistle on White House’s mass spying programs via phone and the Internet on both foes and friends alike.
His revelations helped spark widespread debates as well as angry protests both in and outside the United States over the country’s mass surveillance programs.