Streetwise Professor

June 27, 2013

Snowden: Putin’s Tar Baby?

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:38 am

Has Edward Snowden become Vladimir Putin’s very own special tar baby?  Oh yes, it was great sport to jerk around the Americans, and mock the administration for its impotence, when Snowden arrived in Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.  And no doubt the intelligence services had great fun with Snowden’s pilfered NSA computers, and squeezing him for information.  No doubt he’s an easy target, given his grandiosity and narcissism, and what has to be the dawning recognition that he is totally dependent on the tender mercies of FSB types: I wouldn’t be surprised if Snowden will be the poster boy for Sheremetyevo Syndrome-sort of like the Stockholm Syndrome on steroids.  Snowden imagined that he was working with an evil intelligence service at the NSA.  No doubt he’s getting a real education in the subject now.

But Putin and the Russians got pretty much the entire PR and intelligence bonanza in a couple of days.  Those oranges are well-squeezed, and from Putin’s perspective, it’s past time for Snowden to be on his merry way.  To anywhere.  Besides, Russia could get the benefit of American discomfiture if Snowden was in Ecuador or Venezuela: indeed, it would be particularly amusing to Putin to see a country like Ecuador stymie the US, and you can believe he would make the most of his opportunities to point this out in his inimitable ridiculing way.  All without having to deal with the bother of having Snowden in Russia.

But now Snowden is starting to be like that fling who decides to cling.  I can see Putin saying: Jeez, it was fun while it lasted, but now why won’t he just go? From Putin’s perspective, in the future Snowden will bring only trouble and annoyance if he stays in Russia.

But Snowden has nowhere to go.  Despite the mendacious Wikileaks’ assurances that Snowden had travel documents from Ecuador, the Ecuadorans say they have issued no such paperwork.  They are also saying that they’ll make a decision on giving Snowden asylum mañana.  Or maybe the day after mañana.  Or maybe a couple of months after mañana. Pretty much everywhere he would have to fly through to get to Ecuador or Venezuela has an extradition treaty with the US, and these countries are no doubt not really all that stoked about confronting the US on this one.  Hell, what’s the upside even for Cuba?

So Snowden is living The Terminal in real life, and thinking that Frank Dixon would be a vast improvement on whatever FSB mouth breathers he has to spend time with.  (Well, maybe he is: nobody has seen him.  Maybe he’s ensconced in an FSB apartment.  And there’s always Lubyanka!  But regardless, he ain’t walking around free and living large, and has an entourage of spooks committed to messing with him.)

And every minute that he’s there, he becomes a bigger headache for Putin.  He’s exploited the PR and intelligence, but in the future Snowden’s presence will just be a major irritant in dealing with the US.  Putin is a realist, and doesn’t want to indulge in conflict for conflict’s sake: there has to be a payoff, and from here on out, there is no payoff potential in continued conflict with the US over Snowden.  Moreover, after the big statements he made about Snowden being a free man, and it being legally impossible for Russia to hand him over (which is bullshit, but there it is), Putin can’t very well back down and hand him over.   Finally, I am sure that Putin despises Snowden as an untrustworthy weasel.  The Russians don’t trust anyone, especially one who has done something that is treasonous in their eyes.  And Snowden’s obvious psychological issues make him a major risk.  He f*cked his own country to indulge his grandiose fantasies: no way the Russians want anything to do with him once they’ve squeezed him dry.

So Putin held Snowden close in his opportunistic way to get the propaganda and intelligence benefits.  Now he wants to get shed of him, but finds that the baby won’t come unstuck.  Seeing this, others are unlikely to rush to free him from it.  Let’s just hope no one throws Putin in the b’rer patch and lets him  escape from this sticky situation he’s gotten himself into.

I guess we have to take our solace where we find it.  It’s pretty much the only silver lining in this clusterf*ck.

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  1. Do existing treaties allow European nations such as France to deny overflight rights to foreign registered aricraft or demand a commercial passenger plane in its airspace land if the country believes an individual subject to arrest in their country is on the plane?

    I’m wondering how they get Snowden out of Russia without another nation permitting the plane overflight rights.

    Comment by Charles — June 27, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

  2. The FSB will obviously learn a great deal from someone who had access to the same data as 1.5 million other US contractors.

    Comment by S/O — June 27, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

  3. @S/O. I am convinced he hacked this stuff. That aside, you’re full of it re access by every contractor.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 27, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

  4. @Charles-yup. Every flight plan has to be approved by every country overflown. I was discussing this with a friend last night. Try figuring out how to fly from Russia to Cuba without flying over a country with an extradition treaty with the US. Hell, even Greenland is Danish territory. And as soon as it was known that Snowden was on a flight, the flight plan could be yanked/permission to overfly withdrawn.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 27, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

  5. @SWP Isn’t S/O usually (if not always) full of it?

    Comment by Andrew — June 29, 2013 @ 1:04 am

  6. @Andrew. LOL. Pretty much. Especially those times when he seems compelled to defend Putin or Russia.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 29, 2013 @ 7:50 am

  7. S/O Where can Obama Putin Consulting send you a check?


    Comment by ObamaPutin — June 29, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

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