As the world examined the first face-to-face encounter between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit, the Internet turned its attention to a different interaction between two world leaders.
Cameras captured a candid exchange between Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — one that is as humorous as it is fleeting. Putin, with one hand in his pocket and the other emphatically gesturing, appears to be discussing a topic that Merkel seems to find less than riveting based on her reaction. There’s a strong chance the two were speaking German. Putin worked in East Germany from 1985 to 1990 and speaks the language fluently.
The Internet wasted no time in guessing the conversation topic that prompted Merkel's eye roll.
This is not the first awkward moment Merkel and Putin have shared. In a 2014 New Yorker profile on Merkel that explores her relationship with Putin, George Packer wrote that Putin brought his dog into a 2007 meeting with Merkel, who is afraid of dogs.
In 2007, during discussions about energy supplies at the Russian President’s residence in Sochi, Putin summoned his black Lab, Koni, into the room where he and Merkel were seated. As the dog approached and sniffed her, Merkel froze, visibly frightened. She’d been bitten once, in 1995, and her fear of dogs couldn’t have escaped Putin, who sat back and enjoyed the moment, legs spread wide. “I’m sure it will behave itself,” he said. Merkel had the presence of mind to reply, in Russian, “It doesn’t eat journalists, after all.” The German press corps was furious on her behalf — “ready to hit Putin,” according to a reporter who was present. Later, Merkel interpreted Putin’s behavior. “I understand why he has to do this—to prove he’s a man,” she told a group of reporters. “He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.