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With more at stake, US and Russia cool war of words over l'Affaire Snowden (+video)

The Edward Snowden affair elicited a round of threats and needling from US and Russian officials, but the two powers have appeared to pull back, mindful they have more consequential mutual interests.

Edward Snowden in Russia: Now what?
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After the threats and the needling over the Edward Snowden affair, the United States and Russia appear to be settling down and accepting the reality that the two world powers have little choice but to live and work together.

The arrival at Moscow’s international airport Sunday of Mr. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor wanted by American authorities for leaking top-secret information on US surveillance programs, had US officials beginning with Secretary of State John Kerry warning Russia Monday of the “consequences” it risked if it didn’t turn over the fugitive.

And Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to be getting a bit of a thrill at the expense of the US as he made the case Tuesday for not turning over Snowden on the grounds of human rights – an issue the US Congress and many US NGOs cite in their criticisms of the Russian government.

But after the venting and the fun, both sides are pulling back to more reasoned positions. The changed tone reflects a mutual desire not to let the Snowden affair spoil the chances of the US and Russia pursuing more long-term and consequential mutual interests, including a political solution in Syria and continued cooperation on nuclear issues.

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