‘Enough is enough’: Senators push Obama to get tough with Putin

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are urging President Obama to recommend an alternate location for September's G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, if authorities there don't turn over intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

The White House has already signaled that Obama might skip a planned bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow if Russia grants asylum to Snowden.

But the two senators are putting forward a resolution that says Obama should push for the later G-20 summit to be moved altogether if Russia defies the U.S. and lets Snowden take residence in the country.

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“On multiple fronts, Russia is becoming one of the bad actors in the world,” said Graham in a statement. “For Russia to grant temporary asylum to Mr. Snowden on top of all this would do serious damage to our relationship. It is past time we send a strong message to President Putin about Russia’s actions and this resolution will help accomplish that goal.”

Graham has also suggested that the U.S. should consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, if Putin’s government grants safe harbor to Snowden.

Schumer said Putin is "too eager to stick a finger in the eye of the United States."

“Enough is enough," Schumer said. "It’s time to send a crystal clear message to President Putin about Russia’s deplorable behavior, and this resolution will do just that.”

Snowden has been holed up in a Moscow airport's international transit zone for three weeks, after fleeing Hong Kong when the United States filed an extradition request with Chinese authorities.

Snowden has admitted to leaking classified information about top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs, and has been charged with espionage. Earlier this week, he requested temporary asylum from the Kremlin, which would allow him to leave the airport and obtain travel documents from one of the Latin American nations that has offered him a permanent home.

Earlier this week, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama still intended to travel to the G-20 summit this September in St. Petersburg. But he also signaled that the president could scrap one-on-one talks scheduled beforehand in Moscow, and refused to directly answer questions about whether that part of the trip would still happen.

It's unclear whether Obama could do anything to change the location of the conference; Russia currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the G-20. 

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Friday noted that Russia was the host when asked about the resolution Friday.

"So I'm not sure, you know, exactly what that proposition is meant to suggest," Carney said.

But, the press secretary added, the resolution underscored the underlying issues with the "disposition of Mr. Snowden."

"Our message is what it has been, which is that he ought to be expelled and returned here to the United States where he will be afforded all of the significant rights given to defendants in this country as he faces charges," Carney said.

But Obama could conceivably skip the meeting. In 2012, Putin sent Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to the G-8 meeting at Camp David, which was seen as a deliberate snub in response to a proposed NATO missile defense shield.


- This post was updated at 4:40 p.m.