Streetwise Professor

August 27, 2013

Russian Hospitality

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:30 pm

The latest in the Snowden fiasco is a report in Kommersant, which claims that Snowden stayed at the Russian consulate in Hong Kong for several days, including his birthday. Ah yes, that famous Russian hospitality.

Now, obviously Eddie didn’t look up the address in the phone book,  knock on the door and say: “Hey bro, I’m kinda hot right now and I need a place to stay.  Can I crash on your couch?  And hey, it’s my birthday: let’s party!”  Either he had pre-existing contacts with the Russians, or more likely, Wikileaks and/or Poitras/Greenwald had such contacts, and used them to secure Snowden a place to hide.

Which raises some questions.  Were these contacts that had been developed for reasons independent of Snowden, which Harrison or Poitras drew upon when things started to close in on Snowden in Hong Kong.  (The US had filed an extradition request the day before Snowden bunked with Boris and Natasha.)  Or, had Poitras and perhaps Wikileaks and perhaps Snowden/Appelbaum/Greenwaldj been working with the Russians in connection with Snowden’s espionage?  I lean towards the first interpretation, but don’t rule out the second.

Regardless, the story makes Putin’s “I’m Shocked! Shocked! that Snowden turned up here” routine look totally disingenuous.

One other aspect of the Kommersant story: it says that Snowden couldn’t accompany all those journalists to Havana because the Cubans caved to American pressure, and denied him permission to enter the country.  This is looking like a mistake.  It would be better for the US for Snowden to be anywhere but Russia.

But Russia could have arranged for Snowden to leave the country without having to worry about US leaning on any transit country.  A Russian flotilla just docked in Venezuela.  Why didn’t Eddie hitch a ride?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. I’ve been amused at the way the story has morphed from Snowden escaping to Russia to Snowden getting stuck in Russia. As I commented before, during the Cold War some folk were willing to spy for Russia, but not so enthusiastic about living there. And as someone all too familiar with the endless boredom of a Moscow winter, I can hardly blame them.

    What Putin is up to is a mystery to me. My guess is that he wants whatever Snowden has, maybe even stuff Snowden doesn’t even know he has, such as how you plant a mole into Booz, or into the NSA, who at Booz or the NSA smoothed the ground for Snowden to be recruited, how you use the Poitras/Greenwald network for your own purposes, and who else that network is connected to, that we don’t even know yet. I’d bet Dollars to donuts that Poitras/Greenwald only think they are independent players.

    But I think Putin wants to get the goods without re-awakening that whole Russia meddling in the US’ backyard thing from the Cold War. If that’s the case, getting Snowden to Cuba or Venezuela would be bad outcomes. In any case, why share the product with Castro Jr. or Maduro?

    One other thing. Putin can’t prevent the US from intervening in Syria, but we should recall how many Western actions during the Cold War were used as “cover” for a Russian operation. Suez became cover for the suppression of Hungary and so on. What will Syria become cover for?

    Comment by jon livesey — August 28, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

  2. What will Syria become cover for?

    An outbreak of competence in their oil industry?

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 28, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

  3. And as someone all too familiar with the endless boredom of a Moscow winter, I can hardly blame them.

    Only dull and unimaginative people can be bored for seasons at a time.

    Comment by S/O — August 29, 2013 @ 1:22 am

  4. “Only dull and unimaginative people can be bored for seasons at a time.”

    I’m guessing that you find it a bit of a challenge imagining a Moscow Winter.

    Comment by jon livesey — August 29, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

  5. If you don’t like Russia, then it is probably one of the worst places in the world to live. I knew people who hated Russia when I lived there, and they had a terrible time. A lot of us loved it, yet it is still difficult, not least because of the long and harsh winters (followed by a month or wallowing mud). I loved living there, and would do so again happily. But it’s a terrible place to be if you don’t really like it, something (as has been mentioned previously) many a defector found in the days of the USSR. Once the publicity has died down, Snowden will find himself in a pretty crappy job in a pretty crappy Russian apartment, an ignored by the guys who he helped previously. Kim Philby was sold a pup when he fled to the USSR, expecting a colonel’s position in the KGB (yeah, right) and to rub shoulders with the upper levels of the politburo. Instead he was largely abandoned and lived out his days in drink and depression, disillusioned and under house arrest. At least Philby was 51 when he started his “sentence”, Snowden is 30. Unless he learns to love Russian life PDQ, he’ll probably wish he’d turned himself in to the Americans at some point.

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 29, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

  6. “I’m guessing that you find it a bit of a challenge imagining a Moscow Winter.”

    Wait are you implying that are dear friend Sublimey doesn’t actually have much in-country experience with Russia? How could you possibly reach such a conclusion given the brilliant commentary that he pulls out of his arse?

    Comment by hmm — August 30, 2013 @ 4:31 am

  7. Menage A Onze in binary.

    Comment by pahoben — September 2, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress