Senators demand repercussions for Russia

August 1, 2013

Prominent members of the Senate on Thursday derided a decision by Russia to formally grant NSA leaker Edward Snowden asylum for one year, calling on the Obama administration to exact consequences on the former Cold War enemy.

(Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
(Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), joined a chorus of critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling on President Obama to demand that the G-20 move its pending summit from Russia after Putin’s decision.

“Russia has stabbed us in the back,” Schumer, the No. 3 Democratic leader, told reporters.

Schumer had already co-sponsored a resolution with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asking the White House to consider compelling the G-20 to move the summit, and Thursday’s action increased the stakes.

“Mr. Snowden’s a coward who has chosen to run,” Schumer said, distinguishing him from other high-profile leakers of government documents such as Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the infamous “Pentagon Papers."

Other reactions were similarly full-throated.

Graham and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called for quick movement on missile defense programs in Eastern Europe and for expanding NATO to include the Republic of Georgia, a former Soviet republic.

"We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for," McCain and Graham said in a joint statement. "We cannot allow today’s action by Putin to stand without serious repercussions."

Graham also previously suggested the United States boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Schumer, however, declined to support Graham’s call Olympic boycott, saying that such a sanction would only hurt the U.S. athletes. He instead urged the administration to consider a host of other sanctions, but declined to name the ones he would support.

The Obama administration thus far hasn't said much about these proposals, but White House press secretary Jay Carney did say Thursday that it is "evaluating the utility of a bilateral summit in Moscow" during the G-20.

Updated at 5:10 p.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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