Snowden asylum 'limited blow' to Russia-US ties: Experts

Moscow, August 2 (IANS) After 40 days of being stranded in a Moscow airport, fugitive US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden received temporary asylum in Russia. However, experts say that despite an apparent desire for the least impact from both countries, the one-year permission would still deal a "limited blow" to the Russia-US ties.

The US had made it clear several times that any help to Snowden from Russia would harm bilateral relations, Veronika Krasheninnikova, director of the Institute of Foreign Policy Studies and Initiatives, told Xinhua.

With Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer assisting Snowden, unveiling a copy of the certificate at the Sheremetyevo airport, "no one will believe that the Russia-US relations can improve", the expert said.

The certificate issued by the Federal Migration Service (FMS) allows Snowden to travel freely within Russian territory.

Eugeny Varshavsky, former head of the FMS Department for Legal Support, said Snowden was "not merely an ordinary refugee, but a former special services employee".

"He is now one of the most wanted persons in the world as the secret services do not forgive people who make their secrets public," Varshavsky told Xinhua.

Thus, the US side would continue pressing for the return of the whistleblower, which could certainly impair bilateral relations, he said.

Speaking of possible US reactions, geopolitical analyst Udo Ulfkotte told Russia Today TV station that Washington "will try to expel some Russian diplomats".

"Maybe, tomorrow or next month, there will be news about economic espionage from Russian diplomats ... That's an old game," the expert said.

However, the experts stopped short of foreseeing a "dramatic deterioration" between Moscow and Washington.

"Of course, the US will increase their pressure on Russia, but they are quite limited in the choices or tools for such a situation," Krasheninnikova said.

The two sides would "not worsen relations below a certain level, because the US needs Russia more than Russia needs the US," referring to issues such as nuclear non-proliferation in Iran, the Syrian crisis settlement and others.

Sergei Karaganov, political analyst with the National Research University Higher School of Economics, told Xinhua that Russian authorities had now taken "a sort of time-out to think what to do with him (Snowden), how to get out of the trap".

He said Snowden had to keep his word, that is not to release information against US interests, if he did not want to be expelled.

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