Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday rejected the Obama administration’s calls to extradite Snowden, who has been charged with espionage for leaking vital details on domestic intelligence programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The former CIA analyst is allegedly still on Russian soil, after he failed to board a commercial flight from Russia to Cuba, where was seeking asylum from the espionage charges.
Snowden will reportedly remain in Russia while officials in Ecuador review his request seeking asylum in the country.
Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelWho will temper Trump after he takes office? Hagel: I’m ‘encouraged’ by Trump’s Russia outreach Want to 'drain the swamp'? Implement regular order MORE said he was hopeful Moscow will "do the right thing here and turn [him] over to the United States."
"He has broken laws [and] . . . this violation of our laws was a serious security breach in our national security apparatus," Hagel said at the same Wednesday briefing at the Defense Department.
Dempsey admitted friction between Washington and Moscow has generally centered on nuclear weapons and missile defense issues, and most recently in efforts to end the three-year Syrian civil war.
That said, Russia has been a strong counter terrorism ally, as well as supporting the American war effort in Afghanistan, according to Dempsey.
But the Snowden's illegal disclosures of NSA operations, and his efforts to evade capture by U.S. officials, has harmed American national security interests around the world.
"There was damage done to this country by the Snowden leaks, and we are assessing that now," Hagel said.
"But make no mistake. This violation of our laws was a serious security breach in our national security apparatus," the Pentagon chief added.
Counterintelligence officials at NSA and the intelligence community are in the midst of their investigation to see what kind of harm Snowden did to the U.S. defense and intelligence operations.
For his part, Dempsey said it was "too early to tell" the extent of that damage, but noted U.S. adversaries were already shifting tactics, based on the classified information leaked by Snowden.
"Simply stated, if our adversaries are witting and know the way in which we tried to gain information about them, then clearly they will seek to change their tactics and we'll be in a position of trying to adjust our tactics, as well," according to Dempsey.
"But we'll know more about that soon," he added.