Russia, China, and the United States are the world's most powerful frenemies. Sure, President Obama might chill with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Palm Springs or sit for a photo-op with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but when things get tough, their administrations get catty.
Thanks to NSA secret-spiller Edward Snowden's recent world tour, tensions are especially high. On Sunday, Hong Kong officials said he left for Moscow. Initial reports had Snowden departing Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for Cuba, but when the plane took off, his seat was empty. Russia, meanwhile, says that Snowden is still in the transit area of the Moscow airport, won't be extradited to the U.S., and is free to go where he pleases.
Here are some of the more indignant things Russian, Chinese, and U.S. officials have been saying during the Snowden diplomatic shell game.
John Kerry on Snowden's travel choices
"I suppose there's no small irony here — I mean, I wonder if Mr. Snowden chose China and Russia as assistants in his flight from justice because they’re such powerful bastions of internet freedom." [The Hill]
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov plays innocent
"He chose his itinerary on his own. We learnt about it ... from the media. He has not crossed the Russian border. We consider the attempts to accuse the Russian side of violating U.S. laws, and practically of involvement in a plot, to be absolutely groundless and unacceptable." [Reuters]
John McCain on Russia's "total lack of respect" for the United States
"It is well known that he is in Russia. It's reminiscent of the days of the Cold War when you hear a Russian spokesman saying that he's not in Russia when every shred of evidence indicates that he is." [The Hill]
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Russia not being very nice
"The bottom line is very simple: Allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways, and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States, whether it is Syria, Iran and now, of course, with Snowden. I think it'll have serious consequences for the United States-Russia relationship." [ABC News]
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney doesn't believe China's story
"We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official. This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship." [Los Angeles Times]
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying thinks the U.S. should be more concerned with its domestic spying program than with Snowden
"It is unreasonable for the U.S. to question Hong Kong's handling of affairs in accordance with law, and the accusation against the Chinese central government is groundless ... I'd like to advise these people to hold up a mirror, reflect and take care of their own situation first." [New York Times]
The Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper slams the NSA's global reach
"Not only did the U.S. authorities not give us an explanation and apology, it instead expressed dissatisfaction at the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for handling things in accordance with the law … In a sense, the United States has gone from a model of human rights to an eavesdropper on personal privacy, the manipulator of the centralized power over the international internet, and the mad invader of other countries' networks." [RT]