“In the specific areas that we have set out to make progress with the Russian government, we just hadn’t,” said a senior Obama administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic issues. The official noted that Obama’s national security advisers all agreed with the cancellation.
The matter-of-fact tone of the eventual announcement was in stark contrast to the tortured explanations that Carney and others offered for Putin’s decision to cancel a visit to the United States in May 2012, shortly after he reassumed the presidency from protégé Dmitry Medvedev.
U.S. officials insisted then that Putin’s absence from a Group of Eight meeting was not a snub, although the gathering had been moved from Chicago to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., largely to accommodate the Russian leader.
Putin returned to Russia’s top job last year, after four years as prime minister. He had previously held the presidency for two terms, and in many ways never left power. Putin was a strong force behind the scenes during Medvedev’s tenure, despite the warmer face Medvedev presented to the West.