By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – They could not be more different.

One man is a mild-mannered progressive who went to Harvard. The other is a tough guy former-KGB agent who likes to pose topless for the cameras and hangs out with the likes of Steven Segal.

So let’s be honest, Barack Obama and Vladamir Putin were already starting in a weird place.

Still, they found ways to get along – or at least pretend to – in meetings held in both of their respective countries.

Then Edward Snowden came along and leaked info on the government’s surveillance programs only to find asylum in Russia.

And things just fell apart.

President Obama had no choice but to cancel a planned meeting with Putin at the G20 next month.

At least that’s the narrative we’re hearing.

But let me tell you it takes a lot more to derail a bilateral meeting of world leaders.

And there is a lot more.

It’s not just that that these two men don’t like each other. The chill in the air is due to major differences in foreign policy issues like the civil war in Syria, a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, China’s role in geopolitics and any number of human rights issues.

We don’t agree on any of these things. And that’s why some people are even talking about boycotting the Olympics in Russia next winter.

That would of course be an extreme move and no one expects that to happen.

But this too could change if there’s a dispute over the gay community attending or participating in the Games. See there’s a new “gay propaganda law” in Russia which bans public displays of affection by same-sex couples and prohibits events that promote gay rights. Putin just signed it in June.

The Olympic Committee says this won’t affect athletes or visitors. But if Russia wants to use this issue to make a point, you might be surprised how quickly people forget the name Edward Snowden.

Follow Joe on Twitter @joemathieuwbz


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