The No. 2 Democrat in the House said Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will damage its already cool relationship with the U.S.
But House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, stopped short of a full condemnation of Russia’s action, saying that for diplomatic reasons the U.S. can’t afford to abandon its relationship with its former Cold War adversary.
Russia’s action “was not consistent with our requests, and it will certainly not help relations between the two countries,” Hoyer told reporters Thursday. “I think we’ll have to take it from there.”
Because the U.S. and Russia share many global interests, Hoyer stressed the need for continued cooperation.
“We have mutual interests, we need to pursue those interests,” Hoyer said. “Russia should be, could be and I hope would be a much more positive partner in trying to bring stability in areas of the world where we have insecurity and instability. They haven’t been very good at that and they would be very helpful in achieving those objectives.”
When asked if President Obama should go through with a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in September, Hoyer said, “I don’t want to prejudge the president’s view on that.”