On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin held his annual live marathon Q&A session with the public, titled: “Direct Line with the president.”
During the session, he said Russia was ready to grant former FBI director James Comey asylum.
“[Comey] suddenly said that he had recorded a conversation with the president, and then gave the recording of this conversation to the media via his friend. Well, that sounds very strange when a special service chief records a conversation with the commander-in-chief and then gives it to the media via his friend. Then what’s the difference between the FBI director and Mr. [Edward] Snowden? Then he is not the head of the special services, but a human rights advocate who defends a certain position,” Putin said.
Political analyst Adam Garrie described the parallel between Comey and Snowden as “brilliant.”
“It was a masterful moment for Vladimir Putin,” he told RT. “With all the lies and disinformation about the Russian president in Western mainstream media, people forget that, like most intelligent men, he’s got a wonderful sense of humor, he can be very cheeky, he can be sarcastic.”
“Like Snowden, who thought he was doing a public good, Comey said that he thought he was doing the same. Should things get hairy for Comey, the doors to Russia are equally open to him. I thought that was a very important remark by Putin on the whole sort of circus-like element of the whole Russia nonsense that’s gripping and probably will grip for some time the pundits in Washington. It just makes it clear that the entire tone of Putin’s statements about America is that we [Russia] want to get on with having good relations. It’s crucial not just bilaterally, but to the wider world, if the two of the three major superpowers do have improved relations, but that the situation domestically in America is close to hopeless – so that while the Russian door is open, no one in Russia is going to lose their breath or their cool waiting to hold it open,” Garrie said.
Martin McCauley, an author and Russia analyst, noted that if Comey accepted the offer, “he’d be confessing to everything that the Democrats had accused him of.”
“He is not going to do that, because he was a public official, who was responsible to the Constitution, therefore he would defend that position, say: ‘I defend the constitution, I didn’t do anything wrong, and I will answer all your accusations, and I don’t have to run away from anything,’” McCauley added.
During Thursday’s “Direct Line” session, Putin also said that “exchanging barbs” with the US would be the worst path.
McCauley says there is room for cooperation between Moscow and Washington despite all the anti-Russian hysteria in America’s political and media discourse.
“In fact, Russia and America should get together. There are so many things to talk about. One of them is in fact Syria, the Middle East, the spat over Qatar at present, which could escalate, and so on. So, there are many things that Russia and America could together work on,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the Democrats now have got the bit between their teeth. They are going for the mid-term elections. And they are going to do their level best to show Trump and anyone else connected with him in as bad a political light as possible, so that the general public, the American public, would accept their version of the truth, their version of the news, instead of Trump’s point of view and those around him. It is not really a fair battle – it’s really like a duck shoot,” McCauley told RT.
Victoria Panova, director of the Oriental Studies Institute at Russia’s Far Eastern Federal University, says that there is no other way for Russia and the US than to talk and discuss issues of concern.
“Even if we don’t have strong economic ties, strong trade ties, we are the two countries that have the biggest nuclear arsenals; that are responsible for the world peace, for global wellbeing. That is why I am quite sure that there is no other way for us than to talk. The other problem is that now Trump continues to have internal problems… anti-Russian hysteria is used by the opponents of Trump to make sure that if he makes any significant steps toward Russia, then it would be [used] against him,” she told RT.
“I am quite sure there is no other way than just to sustain the dialogue further, especially continue talking on non-proliferation, on containment of weapons of mass destruction, on anti-terrorist activities, on all other issues of security of mutual concern – this cannot be sustained without the two countries in cooperation.”
According to Panova, it’s good news that “some European countries finally started thinking independently.”
“I hope there will be more independence of thinking and more concern for their own national interests further on. But I would not be willing to make judgments as to Russia being the primary point of concern for the discordance between countries in the west: the US and Europe. I think they have enough problems without Russia to be disagreeing on – be it climate change; be it some trade issue; be it TTIP, etcetera,” she said.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.