Barack Obama and the CIA and DOJ have made it a personal test of Putin as an ex-KGB agent to get Edward Snowden to Venezuela safely.
Putin is being forced by Obama to rise to the challenge. Obama and DOJ are making it a test of wits between them and ex-KGB Putin.
If Snowden is stopped on the way to Venezuela, Putin loses face with the Russian people. Putin’s claim to leadership is that he is ex-KGB and that Russia is still better at spying than the US.
If Putin lets the US stop Snowden, then Putin is a paper tiger to the Russian people. This type of loss of face can lead to revolution. No one knows that better than Russian intelligence.
Stopping Bolivia President Evo Morales’ plane in Vienna made it a test of intelligence services between the CIA and NSA and Russia’s FSB/SVR. Now Russia has to make sure that Snowden finds a safe asylum. If they don’t, they risk revolution in Russia.