It is well known that the leaders of the two nations that collectively posses the vast majority of nuclear weapons on planet earth have an icy relationship at best. This was awkwardly apparent at this week's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in China. Here are some of the best pictures of this odd couple's interaction, or lack thereof, at the event.
Back-rub Diplomacy?: There was a very odd moment when Vladimir Putin looked like he was trying to pat or rub President Obama on the back, then Obama moved away so Putin's hand ended up on Obama's arm. Obama didn't even acknowledge the strange contact.
The two leaders were really an odd couple to begin with, having almost completely opposite personalities, but a series of events that culminated in Russia's invasion of Crimea, continued involvement in the instability in eastern Ukraine, the shooting down of MH17 and Russia's drastic increase in provocative military displays of force have only deepened the divide between the two men.
No eye contact was made between the two during the initial group reception and publicity shots wearing the customary "Dr. Evil At The Club" outfits.
Some strange silent glances were made during highly publicized APEC events.
Supposedly, a few short exchanges were had between the two heads of state, totaling about 15-20 minutes time. According to the White House's National Security Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan:
"On three occasions throughout the day, for a total of approximately 15-20 minutes, President Obama had an opportunity to speak with President Putin. Their conversations covered Iran, Syria, and Ukraine."
These kinds of official announcements have to be taken for what they are, a packaged statement to show stability and regularity during a time of degrading regularity and stability between the two leaders. In addition, Putin, who is a black belt in Jujitsu, has been known to be elusive, indirect and even guileful when discussing his questionable policies and greater strategic goals.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" President Putin said while touring a ornate room and looking at Obama. Obama, who was clearly avoiding eye contact with Putin, superficially concurred.
Men apart: Since last winter's change in the geopolitical landscape and Russian-US relations, the two world leaders are usually seen separated by a more neutral party while avoiding eye contact at almost all costs during big international events.
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com