Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has been left awkwardly standing in a room in front of a throng of reporters while waiting to meet his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Footage taken ahead of the meeting on Tuesday shows Putin fidgeting, shifting his weight and pulling a series of uncomfortable faces in front of cameras for nearly a minute before he is finally greeted by Erdoğan.
It was unfamiliar terrain for the Russian leader who has developed a reputation for keeping world leaders waiting, on purpose, sometimes for hours after scheduled talks were due to begin. Some speculated it may have been payback for a 2020 meeting in Moscow that saw Erdoğan wait so long to enter the meeting room that he took a seat.
Reporters captured the moment Putin strode into the room on Tuesday in the expectation Erdoğan would swiftly follow suit. Instead, he was left standing amid the sound of camera shutters.
With his hands clasped in front of him, the usually stoic Russian leader was seen shuffling his feet and sucking his cheeks during the 50-second wait. Finally, Putin let his hands fall by his sides with a hint of exasperation as Erdoğan casually emerged and the pair 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 organisation National News, said in a Twitter post.
Karam called the exchange “sweet payback” for Erdoğan after Putin left the Turkish leader waiting for around two minutes before a meeting in 2020. Turkish media reported at the time that Erdoğan and his entourage were left humiliated after they were forced to wait outside in an antechamber in footage shared widely by Russian news outlets.
Erdoğan has been leading efforts to broker a deal to allow thousands of tonnes of grain that is being blockaded by Russia to leave Ukraine’s ports.
Turkey, a Nato member, has a special responsibility under the 1936 Montreux convention for naval traffic entering the Black Sea. It is proposing that Russia allow Ukrainian grain ships to leave Odesa on designated routes so long as checks are made that the vessels are not carrying arms.
Though Putin praised the Turkish leader for mediating talks, saying some progress had been made, he was less impressed with Erdoğan’s ambitions to construct 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”.