The French president is said to have refused a Russian request for a COVID test to stop the country obtaining his DNA.
Emmanuel Macron travelled to Moscow this week to meet President Putin, and the men were pictured at opposite ends of a very long table.
Two sources in Mr Macron’s entourage said that the French leader had been given a choice: either take a test done by Russian authorities and get close to the president, or maintain strict social distancing.
Image: The leaders were discussing the crisis over Ukraine
“We knew very well that meant no handshake and that long table. But we could not accept that they get their hands on the president’s DNA,” one of the sources said.
The second source said Mr Macron had taken a PCR test in France before leaving and another by his own doctor once he landed.
A Russian government spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed that the president had turned down their test – which he said they had no problem with – but that it meant keeping 6m (20ft) from Mr Putin.
“There is no politics in this, it does not interfere with negotiations in any way,” he said.
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Image: The images of the leaders and the long table caused some hilarity on Twitter
Mr Macron’s office said the Russian demand “did not seem to us to be either acceptable or compatible with our diary constraints”.
“The president has doctors who define with him the rules that are acceptable or not in terms of his own health protocol,” it added.
The French president was in Moscow for talks over the Ukraine crisis and images of the leaders at the long table were ridiculed on social media.
There was also speculation that Mr Putin might have been trying to send a message by keeping such distance.
The build-up of Russian troops around Ukraine has prompted fears of an imminent invasion and Western leaders have embarked on a flurry of diplomacy to try to defuse the situation.
Russia denies it has any intention to invade the country.
Source : Sky News