Vladimir Putin was snubbed by Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan who left him twiddling his thumbs in front of TV cameras during a summit in Iran yesterday.
The Russian leader was holding face-to-face talks with his sometimes-ally in Tehran on Tuesday for the first time since ordering the invasion of Ukraine back in February.
But he was left waiting for a toe-curling 48 seconds in front of the world’s press as Erdogan failed to arrive on time for a hand-shaking photo-op.
Putin’s critics said he was left ‘humiliated and insulted’ by what they saw as a bare-faced snub, while others said it showed how far his standing had fallen since the war.
It comes after Putin himself had left Erdogan waiting for almost two minutes in front of TV cameras ahead of a meeting in 2020.
Vladimir Putin was due to meet with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran yesterday, and arrived promptly for a hand-shaking photo-op in front of the world’s media
But the Russian leader was left waiting for a toe-curling 48 seconds until his Turkish counterpart finally appeared
Erdogan’s stunt mirrors an incident in Moscow two years ago where Putin kept him waiting for two minutes, leading some to suggest this was ‘payback’
Anton Gerashchenko, a senior adviser to Ukraine’s foreign ministry, said: ‘Erdogan made Putin wait during the meeting in Tehran.
‘The whole spectrum of emotions of the humiliated and insulted Führer is on his face. The bunker is indeed the best place to stay with such a face.’
Meanwhile Joyce Karam, a senior correspondent for UAE outlet The National, added: ‘Those 50 seconds that Erdogan made Putin wait, looking frazzled in-front of cameras, say plenty of how much has changed after Ukraine.’
Putin and Erdogan were meeting on the sidelines of a trilateral summit in Tehran with Iran’s leaders to discuss the security situation in Syria.
The war was at the top of the agenda for the Turkey-Russia talks, as Erdogan tries to facilitate a deal that would see Putin release millions of tons of grain held up in Ukraine’s ports to avert a global food crisis.
As well as being Putin and Erdogan’s first face-to-face since the invasion, it marked the first time the leader of a NATO state has met with Russia in the wake of the war.
Turkey – which has a number of important deals with Russia including on weapons and nuclear power – has tried to treat a careful middle-ground on Ukraine.
Erdogan and Putin were meeting for talks on Ukraine, leading critics to observe that Erdogan would not have disrespected him before his failed invasion
Tehran summit marked the first time Putin has met with a NATO leader since Ukraine war, after West made Russian a pariah state over the invasion
Putin has been forced to deepen ties with Turkey and Iran – until now allies of convenience – after his plan to topple Ukraine’s regime backfired
But relations were strained in recent weeks after Erdogan dropped his opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, clearing the path for them to do so.
Publicly, Putin has insisted he has no problem with either country becoming members – but privately the Kremlin is thought to be furious.
After the meeting, Putin said ‘progress’ had been made in discussions towards exporting grain from Ukraine.
But he said the prospect of such a deal getting over the line hinged on the West’s willingness to yield ground on sanctions.
‘We will facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain, but we are proceeding from the fact that all restrictions related to air deliveries for the export of Russian grain will be lifted,’ he said.
Russia has been forced to strengthen ties with fellow pariah-state Iran since being closed out by the West following the invasion of Ukraine.
Though the pair have coordinated on some issues before – most notably Syria – their alliance has until-now been one of convenience rather than friendship.
But that has changed drastically in the shadow of Ukraine, with Russia now thought to be buying Iranian combat drones to use in the war.
Putin, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and Erdogan were in Tehran to agree a new framework for Syria – but the summit was overshadowed by Ukraine
Russia has deepened ties with fellow pariah Iran since Ukraine began, and has been forced to rely on Turkey for trade as one of the few nations that has not levied sanctions
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also gave staunch support for the war in Ukraine as he met with Putin on Tuesday, endorsing Moscow’s view that the invasion was necessary to head off an attack from NATO.
Khamenei said the West opposes an ‘independent and strong’ Russia, and would have ‘waged a war’ to get back Crimea which Putin annexed in 2014.
‘If the road would have been open to NATO, it will not recognize any limit and boundary,’ Khamenei told Putin.
But, in a sign of the complicated relations between the trio, Iran and Russia warned Turkey off a plan to re-invade northern Syria in an attempt to establish a buffer zone along its border.
Ankara favours the plan because it wants to drive back Kurdish fighters – who it views as terrorists – who are in control of large parts of northern Syria after they led US coalition forces to drive back ISIS in the region.
Turkey also wants to use the zone to house millions of refugees who have fled the region since the outbreak of civil war in 2011.
But Iran, which has covert military bases in Syria and backs proxy groups there, is bitterly opposed – as is Russia, which has been heavily involved in backing up dictator Bashar al-Assad’s government.
In the end, Iran and Russia seemed to win out as the trio issued a joint statement committing to resolving the situation ‘by political and diplomatic means’.
The allies also committed themselves maintain ‘the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity’ of Syria – though after the invasion of Ukraine, many will doubt the sincerity of those words.