Things got awkward when President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin found themselves in close quarters Friday.
The leaders were attending a luncheon hosted by French President Francois Hollande after the morning’s D-Day ceremonies. The two leaders were “at times close enough to touch but did not speak with or acknowledge each other in the pool’s presence,” according to a White House pool report.
Obama and Putin were separated by just three people when all the leaders attending the lunch gathered for a family photo, according to the report. Their lack of interaction became even more pronounced as the leaders shuffled around for a re-shoot. Here’s the scene:
After the photograph, everyone began moving off but for some reason they got called back to reassemble in the same positions and take it again. Potus made a point of jovially greeting other leaders, kissing Merkel on both cheeks, but he and Putin seemed to go out of their way not to encounter each other. As the leaders began making their way toward the chateau, Potus lingered to make sure Queen Elizabeth was okay while Putin moved ahead chatting with Hollande. At one point as the crowd moseyed slowly toward the building, Obama was right behind Putin and could have tapped him on the shoulder if he wanted to but instead focused his attention elsewhere as if not noticing who was there.
It turns out the the President and Putin did speak on the sidelines of the luncheon, however. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the two spoke informally for about 10 to 15 minutes, according to a later pool report. Whether they discussed the situation in Ukraine or compared how much they each can bench is unclear.