Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron sat at opposite ends of an extremely long table during their Monday meeting in Moscow because Macron refused to take a Russian-administered Covid-19 PCR test over fears of Russian access to his DNA, Reuters reported Thursday, citing two unnamed sources close to Macron.
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) in Moscow on … [+] February 7, 2022, for talks in an effort to find common ground on Ukraine and NATO, at the start of a week of intense diplomacy over fears Russia is preparing an invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.
SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
Russia told Macron he needed to take a PCR test from Russian authorities in order to be close to Putin during the meeting about Russia’s military escalation in Ukraine, both French sources told Reuters.
Macron refused, and one of the sources explained to Reuters, “We could not accept that they get their hands on the president’s DNA.”
The other source said Macron took a PCR test in France and a rapid antigen test while in Russia administered by his personal doctor, saying Russian authorities told Macron and company that the additional PCR requirement was due to Putin living in a “strict health bubble.”
Macron and Putin’s meeting came amid escalating Western fears of Putin ordering an invasion of Ukraine, an action that could take place “any day now,” according to Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser. The meeting sparked some common ground, as the French leader said he offered “concrete security guarantees” to Putin, addressing Russia’s core demand to block Ukraine’s NATO eligibility, while Putin agreed their discussions “could form the basis of further joint steps.” Still, the sides remained far apart on a solution, as a Putin spokesperson said Tuesday reports of Putin promising to not take military action in Ukraine were “not right.” Russia and Belarus began planned military drills near the Ukraine border Thursday, a move condemned by France as a “violent gesture.”
13 feet. That’s how long the table in question is, according to Reuters. Putin sat across the same extremely socially distanced table from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán during a meeting last week.
Putin kept Macron at a distance for snubbing COVID demands: sources (Reuters)
Putin’s massive table: powerplay or paranoia? (The Guardian)