An image of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin's and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron over the Ukraine crisis has been widely mocked on social media.
The picture, which shows the leaders sitting several metres apart at each end of a long oval table in the Kremlin yesterday, was doctored to show Putin and Macron playing badminton, table tennis and air hockey in a bid to 'decide the fate of Ukraine'.
Putin and Macron are meeting in the most absurd setting 🤣 pic.twitter.com/p6R80vWygd— Wu-Tang Is For The Children (@WUTangKids) February 7, 2022
Other versions mocked Macron and Putin for not holding the talks through a zoom call as they would have been 'closer' and suggested the pair had sat further apart than the distance 'between the Russian troops and the Ukrainian border'.
Others showed Macron speaking into a megaphone so that Putin could hear him from the other end of the table, engaged in a Harry Potter-like duel and likened the meeting to a scene from The Incredibles.
Macron and Putin held negotiations in Moscow yesterday in a bid to diffuse rising tensions over the situation in Ukraine.
Putin has spent months massing some 135,000 troops backed by tanks and artillery on Ukraine's borders, sparking repeated warnings from Washington that he is about to invade.
The image was likened to a scene from the Incredibles where Mr Incredible has a tense dinner on a long, thin table in front of a volcano with villain Syndrome's sidekick Mirage.
Another pointed to the contrast between yesterday's talks, where Putin and Macron sat several metres apart and meeting between the two leaders in 2018, where they sat next to each other in armchairs. It is understood the pair were kept separate over concerns about the spread of Covid-19.
A doctored video of the meeting showed Putin and Macron using the table as a see-saw and suggested the 'children' might get their faces painted after the talks on Ukraine.
Meanwhile another super-imposed a cats over each of the heads of the two Presidents - a black cat for Putin and a white for Macron - with each of the felines staring the other down.
And another claimed Macron was asking for the salt, suggesting the pair were engaging in some fine dining at the Kremlin.
French officials are touring the talks as a success and claim that they have won concessions from Putin with a promise not to 'escalate' his troop build up.
But there was little sign of a climbdown from the Russian strongman late yesterday when he told a press conference that he wanted to 'stress one more time' that 'if Ukraine joins NATO... the European countries will be automatically pulled into a war conflict with Russia'.
He said states would not 'even have time to blink' before invoking Article 5 of NATO which demands collective defense of members.
But Putin did describe the talks as 'constructive' after using the familiar 'ty' form of 'you' to address the French President, seen as a sign of a good rapport between the leaders.
His comments came after lengthy negotiations with Macron over the crisis in Ukraine, which Putin described as 'constructive' after using the familiar 'ty' form of 'you' to address the French President, seen as a sign of a good rapport between the leaders.
Macron, who will today hold talks in Kiev with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, later told journalists on a plane to Kiev that he and Putin had discussed the possible 'Finlandisation' of Ukraine - making the country neutral - so that 'NATO can coexist with Russia', according to Le Figaro.
That would be an advance on the current negotiating position of the US and NATO and could strain the already rocky transatlantic relationship.
Putin himself did not mention concessions when he spoke to the media after his six hours of talks with Macron in the Kremlin late yesterday and Moscow later denied the claims.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.