Among those offering sanctuary to Snowden, anti-imperialist Venezuela stands out: a country with an intense antipathy toward the United States and just enough muscle to make his escape from American law enforcement a possibility. It also appears that Russian officials, eager to end the diplomatic fallout of having Snowden in Moscow, see their close ally, Venezuela, as offering the clearest solution.
“The situation with Snowden is creating additional tension in relations with Washington that are complex as they are,” Alexei Pushkov, head of the foreign affairs committee of the lower house of the Russian parliament, told the newspaper Kommersant on Monday.
Pushkov, whose comments dependably reflect the Kremlin’s position on foreign affairs, said the Snowden saga needed to be settled before President Obama arrives in September to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. “And judging by the way things are unfolding,” Pushkov told the newspaper, “this is how it’s going to be.”
Over the weekend, Pushkov had also said that giving asylum to Snowden in Venezuela could not damage Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, because his government’s relations with Washington are already in tatters. “It can’t get worse,” Pushkov said in a Twitter message.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Pushkov said on Twitter that Snowden, “as expected,” had accepted Maduro’s offer of asylum, but he didn’t address the question of how Snowden might get to Caracas. Shortly afterward, the tweet was deleted.
Pushkov then tweeted again, claiming he had heard the news about Snowden on Russian television. “Direct all your questions to them,” he wrote.
By Tuesday evening, Pushkov had issued yet a third tweet: “According to News 24 [a TV news program], with reference to Maduro, Snowden accepted his offer of asylum. If so, he has found that to be the safest option.”
Newly elected and facing staggering economic problems at home despite the country’s oil wealth, Maduro appears to have made a high-pitched, openly hostile position against the Obama administration a cornerstone of his government’s foreign policy. He took his most provocative stand Friday in announcing that Venezuela would take in Snowden. On Monday, Maduro said that a letter from Snowden requesting asylum had been received and that the young American would simply have to decide when to fly to Caracas.