Two of the most powerful men in the world came face to face at the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, and gave a whole new meaning to the phrase Cold War — at least if this iconic photograph is anything to go by.
U.S. President Barack Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for 90 minutes on the sidelines of the summit to discuss a host of global issues, including the Syrian civil war, which has further sharpened divisions between Moscow and Washington for years.
Following the informal “pull-aside” meeting, Obama revealed he and Putin talked about how they could reach “a meaningful, serious, verifiable cessation of hostilities in Syria” and about the situation in Ukraine, which Russia invaded in 2014.
The two world leaders also discussed alleged Russian cyber attacks on America, with Obama likening the internet to a dangerous weapon.
“What we cannot do is have a situation in which this suddenly becomes the wild, wild West, where countries that have significant cyber capacity start engaging in unhealthy competition or conflict through these means,” the president told the media later.
He also described the chat as “candid, blunt and businesslike,” acknowledging it did not yield any major breakthrough and that “gaps of trust” remain between the two.
“We can say that our mutual work with the U.S. in fighting terrorist organizations, including in Syria, will be significantly improved and intensified,” Putin said at a press conference. “I think we managed to get to an understanding of one another and to an understanding of the problems that we are facing.”
None of it sounds very encouraging — and the picture of two presidents staring each other down sums up the entire thing quite perfectly.
The icy standoff between the two presidents also sparked a well-deserved Photoshop battle on Reddit.
Here are few of the most interesting creations:
At least Obama and Putin did not look as unimpressed with each other as they did at the G8 meeting in 2013.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Alexei Druzhinin