Edward Snowden in Moscow: A "Tasty Morsel" For Putin?

It's like a scene straight out of the film The Terminal: Edward Snowden, camped out in the Moscow airport until he's ready to make his next move. What happens next?

It makes sense for Snowden to bed down in Russia until he can reach his final asylum destination in Ecuador. Russia is not a friend of the United States, and feels no obligation to arrest or return Snowden. Putin and Obama do not share a close relationship, and Putin is not known for backing down easily. Most importantly, Russia and the United States do not share an extradition treaty.

Letting Snowden stay in Moscow for the time being is also beneficial to Russia, too. The United States and Russia have a tradition from the Cold War era of trading captured spies, such as the exchange in 2011 of admitted Russian spies for Western agents kept in Russian prisons.

Earlier this week, some Russian legislators suggested that Snowden could be exchanged for Viktor Bout, a Russian convicted for arms trafficking in the United States. However, there is no sign from Washington that the United States is prepared to make such a deal.

The only other thing that could convince Russia to extradite Snowden back to America would be a tradition of not rocking the boat. While Russia and America have been geopolitical competitors for decades, neither side has been willing to escalate tensions. It is unlikely that either Russia or America would be willing to risk important issues over a single extradition case.

Putin's recent comments seem to support this policy. He stated that Snowden had not yet gone through Russian borders and was staying in the transit zone for passengers with a layover.

"Mr. Snowden is a free man and the sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it will be for us and him," he said at a news conference during an official trip to Finland.

"I hope this doesn't in any way affect the nature of our relations with the U.S.," he continued. "I hope our partners understand that."

Not all Russians agree with Putin's remarks, however. It is speculated that Russian security agents have been debriefing Snowden, hoping for insight into American security forces.

"He is a tasty morsel for any, any secret service, including ours. Any secret service would love to talk to him," said a Russian security source.

"It would be silly to pass on such an opportunity to get information that is very difficult, impossible or expensive to get in any other way," said an ex-KGB officer, Lev Korolkov.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Heather Hartlaub

Heather is a recent grad from St. Lawrence University with a degree in Middle Eastern History and Arabic. Raised around the world as a military brat, she loves foreign policy, kebseh, and crossword puzzles.

MORE FROM

Dow Jones won’t talk about its reported pay gap problem

A study released by the union representing Dow Jones employees found evidence of a "significant pay gap between men and women" who had the same job title and level of experience.

Mom slams ACA repeal, shows what's at stake in a tweetstorm about son's health

This mom says that without the ACA, her son wouldn't get the medical care he desperately needs.

Theresa May announces pact with Northern Ireland's conservative DUP

10 of the DUP's MPs will vote alongside May's party in exchange for more than $1 billion of funds.

Supreme Court will hear case of baker who refused service to gay couples on religious grounds

The Supreme Court will take on the case of a bakery owner who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Health care opposition, Trump on Russian meddling & Pakistan tanker explosion

The important stories to get you caught up for Monday morning.

Dozens missing after tourist boat carrying more than 160 passengers sinks in Colombia

At least six people are confirmed dead and dozens more unaccounted for.

Dow Jones won’t talk about its reported pay gap problem

A study released by the union representing Dow Jones employees found evidence of a "significant pay gap between men and women" who had the same job title and level of experience.

Mom slams ACA repeal, shows what's at stake in a tweetstorm about son's health

This mom says that without the ACA, her son wouldn't get the medical care he desperately needs.

Theresa May announces pact with Northern Ireland's conservative DUP

10 of the DUP's MPs will vote alongside May's party in exchange for more than $1 billion of funds.

Supreme Court will hear case of baker who refused service to gay couples on religious grounds

The Supreme Court will take on the case of a bakery owner who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Health care opposition, Trump on Russian meddling & Pakistan tanker explosion

The important stories to get you caught up for Monday morning.

Dozens missing after tourist boat carrying more than 160 passengers sinks in Colombia

At least six people are confirmed dead and dozens more unaccounted for.