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Is Snowden Now Being Used As Russian Pawn?

The NSA whistleblower is being used as a way for Putin to hit back at the US
Molly Holt
Is Snowden Now Being Used As Russian Pawn?© 2017 Tjebbe van Tijen - Flickr

There are many moments in life that lead you to question the world. But those moments usually include realising that more people know who Kim Kardashian is married to than who Nelson Mandela is, not when you notice that modern politics has officially turned into a playground game.

With diplomatic relations between Russia and the rest of the world already tense over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, yesterday news broke that Putin had retaliated. Responding to the latest round of economic sanctions that the U.S and European Union imposed last week, infamous NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been granted permission by Russia to stay in their country for three more years; as well as a ban on food imports from the West. Your move, America.

The unexpected and drastic import ban will isolate Russian consumers from world trade on a scale reminiscent of the Soviet days, or when you were 13 and trying to prove your independence to your parents. Russia’s snide move is expected to cost Western farmers billions of dollars, as well as plenty of empty shelves and unhappy people back in Putin’s homeland itself. The ban includes the prohibition of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and milk products from the US, European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway and will last one year. A White House official has called the ban “politically motivated” (no, really?) and stated that it will only backfire on their already disintegrating economy (inflation was at 8% in the first half of the year and the stock market is down by 12%).

Image: © 2014 Flickr - Bernt Rostad

One of the major factors of the disintegrating US-Russian relations was their decision last year to grant asylum to fugitive US whistleblower (and arguably America’s most wanted man) Edward Snowden. After releasing mass documentation about the NSA’s surveillance programs, Snowden was stranded in Moscow airport en route from Hong Kong to Cuba for a month before finally receiving temporary asylum. Although he has not yet been granted political asylum, the new permit will allow Snowden, whose exact whereabouts still remains private, to remain in the country until 2017 or permanently if he applies further. He currently faces charges in the US for espionage and theft of government property which is legally punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The Snowden situation (and the mass media attention that follows it) illustrates another political dig by the Kremlin at the Obama administration, whose tensions have increased since separatists have been blamed to be responsible for the downing of the Malaysian airlines jet last month, after firing missiles were supplied by Moscow.

Reaching almost Cold War lows, it seems that the deteriorating US-Russia relations have reduced leaders to making spiteful and childish jibes. We can almost picture the US governments Facebook status now: "Can't believe Russia won't give back my favourite top, she's sooo selfish".

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