The Russian president received a treatment he typically reserves for other world leaders: he was left standing alone as the camera shutters clicked away. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, was left awkwardly waiting to see Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, in a room in front of a crowd of media.
Tuesday’s footage before the meeting shows Putin shifting his weight, making uncomfortable faces, and fidgeting for about a minute before ultimately being received by Erdogan.
It was unfamiliar territory for the Russian leader, who has earned a reputation for purposefully delaying the start of scheduled conversations with international leaders, sometimes for hours. Some others hypothesized that it might have been retaliation for Erdogan waiting so long to enter the conference room at a 2020 meeting in Moscow that he took a seat.
On Tuesday, reporters watched as Putin entered the room with authority, anticipating that Erdoan would soon do the same. Instead, he was left standing while cameras clicked.
The normally stoic Russian leader was spotted shuffling his feet and sucking his cheeks during the 50-second wait while holding his hands in front of him. Finally, with a hint of irritation, Putin let his hands drop by his sides as Erdoan stepped out and the two shook hands
“Those 50 seconds that Erdoğan made Putin wait, looking frazzled in front of cameras say plenty of how much has changed after Ukraine,” Joyce Karam, senior correspondent at Middle Eastern media organization National News, said in a Twitter post.
The discussion, according to Karam, was Erdogan’s “sweet retribution” for Putin leaving the Turkish president waiting for almost two minutes prior to a meeting in 2020. At the time, footage widely disseminated by Russian news agencies showed Erdogan and his entourage were made to wait outside in an antechamber, humiliating them, according to Turkish media.
A compromise has been mediated by Erdogan to free up thousands of tons of grain that Russia has been barricading in Ukrainian ports.
According to the 1936 Montreux convention, Turkey, a member of NATO, is specifically responsible for naval traffic entering the Black Sea. It suggests that Russia permits grain ships from Ukraine to depart Odesa via predetermined routes, subject to verification that the ships are not transporting armaments.
Putin thanked Erdogan for serving as a mediator and noted that some progress had been achieved, but he was less taken aback by his plans to create a buffer zone south of the Turkish-Syrian border.
Erdoğan claims the buffer zone would shield Turkey from attacks by Syrian Kurds and maintains it is “not possible to expect Turkey to sit idle and aloof from this problem”.
In 2003, Putin was 14 minutes late for the Queen, and a year prior, he kept waiting for two hours at a cemetery for the parents of children murdered in an aircraft tragedy. In June 2015, Putin arrived an hour late for his meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Before a meeting with the Russian president that was supposed to take place in Helsinki in 2018, the US president at the time, Donald Trump, was kept waiting for 45 minutes.
According to Radio Free Europe, Viktor Yanukovych while he was the president of Ukraine once waited four hours before meeting with Putin, while Angela Merkel was kept waiting for four hours and fifteen minutes in 2014.