Bolsonaro gets closer to Putin than Orban, Macron, and Scholz (VIDEOS)
Jair Bolsonaro is the latest top foreign dignitary to visit Moscow this February. One obvious difference in the treatment that the Brazilian president received from his host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, was in how close the two came – physically.
The Russian president welcomed his Latin American guest on Wednesday with a handshake and sat just across a tiny coffee table from him during the formal opening of their meeting.
The protocol is not different from how heads of state are usually welcomed in Russia, but it contrasted sharply with how several others were treated earlier this month.
Putin’s extra-long table for extra-safe one-on-ones made a profound impression on Kremlin watchers on February 1. It debuted during a visit by Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He and Putin shared the gargantuan piece of furniture with their respective interpreters, but it looked too large even for the four of them.
The Hungarian guest reportedly told his host he had never sat at such a long table before.
Global stardom came to the humongous white-polished table after the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron. The official video transmission from the room focused heavily on close-ups of the two leaders, and not on the fact that they were alone at a table that could easily seat a dozen.
Still, the staff of the French leader couldn’t help but to present the meeting as a sort of duel waged across the tabletop. As global attention lasered in on the meeting, which happened amid a standoff between Russia and Western nations over NATO expansion and Ukraine, the images spread like wildfire.
Pour préserver la stabilité, la paix et réenclencher des mécanismes de confiance pour notre Europe, notre devoir est de travailler ensemble. Nous sommes l'un et l'autre convaincus qu'il n'y a aucune solution raisonnable qui ne passe par le dialogue. Alors, continuons. pic.twitter.com/fOr5a7j8M0— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) February 7, 2022
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz got the same distant seating treatment as Macron during his Tuesday visit to Moscow.
There was much speculation over whether there was something more than simple precaution over Covid-19 behind the Kremlin’s introduction of the table into Putin’s diplomatic work. Macron, according to French media, refused to submit his bodily fluids to Russia to be confirmed corona-free. He reportedly didn’t want his DNA to fall into the hands of the Russians, according to Figaro and Reuters.
Some top Russian officials also got to sit far from Putin, just like his foreign guests. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu – who is known to be Putin’s personal friend as well as a member of his government – were both placed quite a few meters away from the Russian president when they made their respective reports on Monday.