Putin, Obama Meet For First Time Since Crimean Annexation

Tristyn Bloom Contributor
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Both in Normandy for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, President Barack Obama and President Vladimir Putin spoke briefly at a lunch held Friday afternoon, Fox reports.

The two hadn’t met since the beginning of the Crimean crisis in February, and while both have been in France for much of this week, the White House requested that the two be kept apart. French President Francois Hollande has been trying to thaw relations, having had separate dinners with the two leaders Thursday evening.

In a speech celebrating 25 years of Polish democracy in Warsaw on Wednesday, Obama said, “We will not accept Russia’s occupation of Crimea or its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia.” (RELATED: President Pumps Iron In Poland)

From there he went to the two-day G7 summit in Brussels, where leaders condemned Putin’s actions and threatened Russia with harsher sanctions if it does not help to restabilize Ukraine.

“We stand ready to intensify targeted sanctions and to consider significant additional restrictive measures to impose further costs on Russia should events so require,” read a characteristically clear statement put out by the group on Wednesday. (RELATED: Obama Asks Putin To Remove Russian Troops From Ukraine)

One Russian official memorably mocked the sanctions, calling them “a big honor” and saying “The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.”

Originally Putin was to have hosted these talks in Sochi, but was booted from the Group of Eight over the Crimean crisis. When asked how he felt about being excluded from a summit lunch on Thursday, Putin said only, “I would like to wish them bon appetit.”

Obama, alongside Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, encouraged other world leaders not to meet with Putin, though to no avail. British PM David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hollande all had meetings with the Russian president this week.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the two “spoke for the need to end violence and fighting [in Ukraine] as quickly as possible.”

Prior to their brief chat the two had been noticeably ignoring each other, with one reporter saying that “Potus made a point of jovially greeting other leaders, kissing Merkel on both cheeks, but he and Putin seemed to go out of their way not to encounter each other. … At one point as the crowd moseyed slowly toward the building, Obama was right behind Putin and could have tapped him on the shoulder if he wanted to but instead focused his attention elsewhere as if not noticing who was there.”

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