The Kremlin’s massive oval table, designed by Vladimir Putin, is as grandiose as it is tacky. It’s possible that sitting far away from foreign visitors is a form of social distancing for him.
But it also reflects the rift that exists between Russia’s president and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron. It could also demonstrate Mr Putin’s alarming isolation from the rest of the world, according to officials.
Nobody can pretend to be able to read his mind as he gathers 130,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. Is he poised to start Europe’s largest conflict since the collapse of the Berlin Wall? Is it all a big bluff, or is it all a big bluff?
Mr Macron was the first heavyweight Western leader to visit Moscow this year on February 7th to ascertain Mr Putin’s intentions. Prior to his arrival, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that he does not believe in “spontaneous miracles.”
There was no apparent resolution after five hours of discussions. Mr Macron said Mr Putin had promised that Russia “would not be the source of an escalation” on the border when he visited Kyiv the next day.
The Kremlin disputed this and dismissed Mr Macron’s ability to negotiate anything. “France is a member of NATO, but it does not lead it. This union is led by a very different country,” said Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s spokesperson. “So, what deals are we able to discuss?” To summarize, America is the only interlocutor who matters.