Russian Official Says Venezuela Is the ‘Best Solution’ for Snowden

The comments by the Russian lawmaker, Aleksei Pushkov, the chairman of the international affairs committee of the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, came just a few hours after Venezuela and Nicaragua extended the first firm offers of asylum to Mr. Snowden, who has been holed up at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for nearly two weeks, and they seemed to reflect the Kremlin’s increasing desire to be rid of him.

“Sanctuary for Snowden in Venezuela would be the best solution,” Mr. Pushkov posted on Twitter. “The country has a sharp conflict with the United States. It will not be worse. And he can’t live in Sheremetyevo.”

In fact, the United States and Venezuela recently began talks toward reconciliation, progress that a senior Obama administration official said Saturday would end if Venezuela sheltered Mr. Snowden, as President Nicolás Maduro said he would, or aided his journey. The official cautioned other nations in Latin America, hinting that relations would worsen if they assisted Mr. Snowden.

Mr. Pushkov’s comments typically echo the Kremlin’s line and, to that extent, they underscore a crucial point: Russia still has no intention of turning Mr. Snowden over to the United States or impeding his travel to any country willing to shelter him.

In fact, far more powerful Russian officials, including President Vladimir V. Putin, have suggested that there is no set limit on the amount of time Mr. Snowden can remain in his traveler’s purgatory in the transit zone of the airport, where technically, they say, he has not crossed onto Russia territory. But Mr. Putin has also said that the sooner Mr. Snowden picks a destination and leaves, the better.

Still, even as the asylum offers from Venezuela and Nicaragua suggested that Mr. Snowden’s sojourn in Russia might be nearing its end, getting to his final destination will not be easy.

Mr. Snowden and his supporters at WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy group, are now contemplating complications for a more than 6,000 mile flight that are of a magnitude unfathomable to even the most experienced frequent fliers.

The easiest route to Latin America from Moscow would take Mr. Snowden first to Havana, where he could then connect to direct flights either to Caracas, Venezuela, or Managua, Nicaragua. But if he purchases a ticket for a regularly scheduled flight on Aeroflot, the Russian carrier, which Mr. Putin has said Mr. Snowden is free to do at any time, would the United States go so far as to force down a commercial jetliner once it crosses into American airspace, which is part of its normal flight path? And even if the Americans are loath to force down a passenger jet, would Cuba, given a mild thaw in relations with the United States, allow Mr. Snowden to pass through Havana?

If Mr. Snowden and his supporters try to arrange for a private jet, could his benefactors afford one big enough to make the nearly 16-hour flight without refueling, to avoid stopping in a country that would be likely to seize him at the request of the United States? And if a private or government plane is sent to pick him up, would it face the same airspace restrictions that forced the plane of President Evo Morales of Bolivia to land in Vienna on his way home from a conference in Moscow last week?

Mr. Morales, still fuming over the diversion of his aircraft, said Saturday that Bolivia would also grant Mr. Snowden asylum “if he asked for it.” Mr. Morales, whose openness to sheltering Mr. Snowden apparently led to the false conclusion that he had smuggled Mr. Snowden onto his airplane, said the decision on asylum was now intended as retaliation.

“As a fair protest” against the United States and Europe, “we are going to give him asylum if he asks us for it, that American pursued by his countrymen,” Mr. Morales said at a public appearance in a Bolivian village, according to local news reports. “We are not afraid.”

Mr. Morales did not say if Bolivia had received a request from Mr. Snowden, who has apparently applied for shelter in more than two dozen countries. Most of those requests have been rejected. Nicaragua’s president said his country had received a request and would grant it “if circumstances permit it.”

State Department officials have been in touch with each of the Latin American nations that have expressed a willingness to harbor Mr. Snowden, the senior administration official said Saturday, and have urged them to expel him if he arrives. But the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about diplomatic matters, conceded that the United States already had poor relations with these countries, and while those ties would worsen should Mr. Snowden receive protection, it remained unclear what the United States would do.

“There is not a country in the hemisphere whose government does not understand our position at this point,” the official said, adding that any aid for Mr. Snowden “would put relations in a very bad place for a long time to come.” The official added, “If someone thinks things would go away, it won’t be the case.”

The United States said that the diversion of Mr. Morales’s plane was “unfortunate.” But there was a much stronger reaction in Russia, where Mr. Putin often makes a point of demanding respect for state sovereignty. The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the European countries that barred Mr. Morales from traveling through their airspace.

Aeroflot’s regular flight to Havana departed Saturday on schedule at 2:05 p.m., and Mr. Snowden was not on board. And, as has been the case since he arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong 13 days ago, there was not a trace of him at the airport. Russian officials have declined to say whether he is holed up in one of the hotels that serve transit passengers or has been staying in some hidden section of the airport.

Cuba has not said how it might react if Mr. Snowden arrives in Havana for a connecting flight to Caracas or Managua. It could follow Russia’s lead and treat him as a transit passenger who has technically not crossed onto Cuban territory. But American officials have made clear that they view that as a mere technicality and have urged any government with access to seize him and send him back to the United States.

Mr. Pushkov suggested that the United States was paying a price for its arrogance. “The Snowden case argues that the U.S. attempt to bring the world under the electronic and military-political control is doomed,” he wrote on Twitter. “Action gives rise to reaction.”

David M. Herszenhorn reported from Moscow, and Randal C. Archibold from Mexico City.

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