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Putin his place

‘Payback’: Erdogan makes Putin wait awkwardly at summit

Turkish president returns favor for 2020 incident; Russian leader has a habit of making international figures wait around for him to arrive

Russia's President Vladamir Putin is made to wait by his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before a one-on-one meeting in Tehran, July 19, 2022. (Screengrab/YouTube)
Russia's President Vladamir Putin is made to wait by his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before a one-on-one meeting in Tehran, July 19, 2022. (Screengrab/YouTube)

President Vladamir Putin was left to wait uncomfortably for 50 seconds in front of the press Tuesday before his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived for a meeting in Tehran.

Amid Putin’s first face-to-face with a NATO leader since launching his invasion of Ukraine, video footage showed the Russian president entering the room alone, expecting Erdogan to follow.

Instead, he was left standing awkwardly, fidgeting and lips twitching until the Turkish president entered the room and greeted him.

The interaction drew widespread international attention, with many viewing Erdogan’s move as a form of revenge against Putin after Russia’s commander-in-chief made Erdogan wait two minutes ahead of a meeting in Moscow two years ago.

Joyce Karam, a senior correspondent for Abu Dhabi-based The National called the exchange “sweet payback,” while Turkish news site T24 pondered: “Was it revenge?”

Putin has made it something of a regular practice to keep top figures waiting for him. In 2003, he arrived 14 minutes late to a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2012 was 50 minutes late for his first meeting with Pope Francis.

Putin arrived in Tehran on Tuesday on only his second foreign visit since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, which has largely isolated Russia on the global stage.

Erdogan and Putin held trilateral talks with President Ibrahim Raisi on the Syrian Civil War, and the three agreed to continue consultations and cooperation to “eliminate terrorists” in Syria, in a statement following their meeting.

The three countries “reaffirmed the determination to continue their ongoing cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate terrorist individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, while ensuring the protection of the civilians and civilian infrastructure in accordance with international humanitarian law,” the statement read.

Putin then held his meeting with Erdogan, thanking him for efforts to “move forward” a deal on permitting Ukraine to export grain.

Erdogan praised what he described as Russia’s “very, very positive approach” during last week’s talks in Istanbul. He voiced hope a deal will be made, and “the result that will emerge will have a positive impact on the whole world.”

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