On Thursday, Edward Snowden was finally allowed to leave a Moscow airport and enter Russia after being granted a temporary, one-year asylum in the country. It was, presumably, a big relief for the National Security Agency leaker. But it's got Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., fuming.
In a statement released Thursday morning, the senator called Russia's actions "a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States." He continued:
It is a slap in the face of all Americans. Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with [President Vladimir] Putin's Russia. We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for. We cannot allow today's action by Putin to stand without serious repercussions.
What would those repercussions be? McCain suggests "significantly" expanding the Magnitsky Act list, "to hold accountable the many human violators [sic] who are still enjoying a culture of impunity in Russia." He also suggests pushing U.S. missile-defense programs in Europe and challenging "political convictions and detentions of Russian dissidents," as well as other human-rights measures.
McCain is not alone in his anger. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., tweeted earlier Thursday that the reset in U.S.-Russia relations is more like the "U.S. being run over." In a statement, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said that "Edward Snowden is a fugitive who belongs in a United States courtroom, not a free man deserving of asylum in Russia." The senator also calls the asylum decision a "setback to U.S.-Russia relations."
All of this puts Putin in a tough spot. He had earlier said that Snowden would only be allowed to stay in his country if he stops "his work aimed at damaging our U.S. partners, no matter how strange this sounds coming from me." More recently, Putin has said he won't let Snowden harm U.S.-Russia relations. The statements from McCain and Menendez seem show that harm actually has been done--even if, particularly in the case of McCain, it may not've been toodifficultto push him over the edge.