Vladimir Putin’s surprise suggestion Monday that his country could accept an asylum request from Edward Snowden is raising new questions in Washington about what the mercurial Russia leader wants.

Experts on U.S.-Russia relations say the drama could imperil an already icy relationship between the United States and Russia as officials grapple with deciphering the complex motives driving Putin.

“The gloat factor may be almost as valuable as the intelligence gleaned from Snowden,” Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, said of how Putin is handling the National Security Agency leaker.