Donald Trump was reportedly in a very grumpy mood throughout his trip to France to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, but that all seemed to change the moment he saw Vladimir Putin.
Photos — posted by Washington Post columnist Brian Klass, on Twitter — from Trump’s visit to France show the president with a beaming smile as Putin arrived at an Armistice Day ceremony. Video footage showed that while other world leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood stone-faced, Trump grinned and gave a hearty handshake to Putin, who gave him a smile and a thumbs up in return.
These images found a home on social media, earning mockery for Trump and his very close relationship with the Russian president. The unusually warm moment between Trump and Putin also garnered interest beyond social media. Euro News shared video of the exchange, noting that Trump announced that he would not hold bilateral meetings with Putin as originally planned.
Before Putin’s arrival, Trump’s trip to France had been marked by controversy and bickering. As CNN reported, Trump was especially testy during the trip, even lashing out at his host on Twitter shortly after arriving. Trump called out Emmanuel Macron for raising the idea of Europe forming its own army to protest itself against threats, including the United States and Russia.
Trump followed that up by canceling his planned appearance to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, citing poor weather. That led to widespread criticism for Trump for failing to honor fallen U.S. troops, and as reported by the Inquisitr, Twitter users were quick to point out the many times that Barack Obama was willing to endure some rain to honor veterans and fallen troops.
Get yourself a lover who looks at you the way Trump looks at Putin. pic.twitter.com/RDQAhfg0w0— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) November 11, 2018
Putin murders journalists & opponents, recently used a nerve agent to assassinate a dissident on British soil, annexed Crimea, facilitates war crimes, and attacked American democracy. This is how Trump reacted when he saw him (notice the difference with Macron/Merkel) pic.twitter.com/VzCSGcuWVR— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) November 11, 2018
The brief meeting between Trump and Putin also had some unusual timing. Although Trump has often pushed back against levying sanctions against Russia for its election interference, his administration just put in place new sanctions for human rights abuses and illegal economic activity in Crimea, Politico reported.
“The move is another example of the Trump administration’s willingness to at times be tougher on Russia than the president’s rhetoric suggests,” the report noted. “Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Putin, even as Congress passed a bill last year to punish Russia for its involvement in the 2016 election and its invasion of Crimea.”
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin may have had only a brief encounter on Sunday, but the two get a chance to meet more in-depth in the coming weeks. They have planned a formal meeting later this month when world leaders travel to Buenos Aires for a G-20 summit.