Russia granted residency permit to Edward Snowden, making him eligible for becoming a Russian citizen in future.
According to his lawyer, the U.S. whistleblower is now allowed to stay in Russia for three more years. Snowden will now be allowed to travel in and out of Russia.
The declaration of granting residency permit to a U.S. fugitive interestingly coincided with Russia's decision to ban Western food imports. Vladimir Putin's government imposed a "full embargo" on food products coming from EU and the United States. The ban is imposed on other Western countries like Canada as well. The decision is apparently a direct reaction to the earlier Western sanction of Russia after pro-Russian separatists allegedly shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing 298 people on board.
Russia's decision on Snowden as well as on the ban may well be considered as a diplomatic step to get even with the West. While the relation between Russia and several Western countries has soured even further after the MH17 accident, Russia seems to have made its stand clear that it is no mood to ease the political tension.
Putin continues to act strong like always as he may also have plans to ban airlines from entering the Siberian airspace. The West too seems to take quite a robust stand by trying to corner Russia. If Russia does decide to ban airlines from entering the Siberian region, it may harm airline companies significantly as the cost of travel to Asian countries will considerably increase.
Snowden, in the meantime, may welcome Russia's decision to let him take refuge in the country for a longer period. The 31-year-old whistleblower apparently disclosed several U.S. State secrets which put the Obama government in embarrassing situations. Snowden went to Russia in 2013 after he had exposed classified information on the alleged U.S. snooping, both nationally and internationally. Snowden was initially given visa for one year but now he is more privileged.
It will be interesting to see if Putin "uses" Snowden against the West, especially the U.S. government in order to have an upper hand in the on-going conflict.
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