June 18th, 2012
08:38 PM ET

Hot and cold day for Obama and Putin


LOS CABOS, MEXICO – Call it a case of appearances over substance. During brief remarks after President Obama’s bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday morning, the two leaders’ body language seemed to indicate the meeting had not gone well. They rarely looked at each other, never smiled and ended their meeting with a perfunctory handshake.

Reporters pounced on such a dramatic visual representation of what has recently been a somewhat troubled relationship. Russia has refused to go along with the United States and other nations in calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, and has blocked two U.N. Security Council Resolutions sanctioning the Syrian government.

At a briefing after the morning meeting, top White House aides warned reporters against reading into what one called the leaders’ “businesslike” meeting.

“Go back and look at the tape when he met with Obama the last time,” U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told reporters. “You'll see exactly the same body language. I have. That's just his style and I really would encourage you not to over-read how somebody is sitting as an indication of where the relationship is.”

The aides said the statement was delivered in Putin’s typical style, adding that the leaders’ interaction shouldn’t be compared to the warm relationship Obama enjoyed with former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev after multiple meetings.

A few hours later, the two leaders appeared much warmer during an afternoon G-20 plenary session. As if playing to the cameras, the leaders gave each other a thumbs up before Obama leaned over to Putin before the meeting’s opening remarks. Putin whispered something in Obama’s ear, and the two presidents shared a laugh.

Although the White House may have pushed back against reporters’ version of the picture that was being painted of the two leaders’ relationship, in the end they seemed to acknowledge the effect of the visual that overshadowed the message.

Topics: G-20 • President Obama • Vladimir Putin

soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Joan

    Journalists should report the facts not assumptions. Discussions about Syria would be serious and thoughtful and it was not a time to be all smiley and jokey. Making assumptions by someone's body lanquage is highly subjective and definitely not accurate. The reporters do not know what went on during the discussion, nor should they. I often think that national security is sometimes jeopardized by jumps to conclusions and making wild accusations about what could or might have happened. The news is something that HAS happened and that is what should be reported. Speculation should be left to fortune tellers and psychics. More and more the journalists seem to be looking at the glass as half empty instead of half full and this leads to unnecessary fears and lack of confidence. This election cycle more than any other I think the media is going to be watched and scrutinized very carefully about how accurately and fairly they report the news.

    June 18, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • RealityBites

      HELLO.., This is CNN. Are you expecting fair and balanced??

      June 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
      • Mark Glicker

        Double Ditto.

        June 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  2. jerry

    blah blah blah... Putin told obama to kiss his.... and obama was willing to do it. End of story...and the Russian war ships are now in route to Syria. Putin won't do business with obama because he don't trust him...no one does...he is a pathological liar and fraud.

    And Jean...the press have began to turn on obama as they did to LBJ when they no longer could cover for him and realized he was crazy and destroying the country...you need to get used to it.

    June 18, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Cynthia L.

      Sorry, Jerry, you are a putz and view the world through, "I hate Obama just 'cause I do." I doubt our President views this man a trustworthy partner in peace. I wouldn't and would be suspious of anyone who does. If you are talking about the press turning against Obama, I guess you would be watching one network and I could name it, easily. Fox.
      If you want to kiss Putin's butt, go ahead. Doesn't seem our President wants to. And, neither do I want him to.

      June 19, 2012 at 12:49 am |
      • NOvember 2012

        I don't think its obama hate...the guy just can't do the job. The G20 and NATO meetings should have proven this to you...obama is what he is a second rate college lecturer (not an academic and not an intellectual) a civil rights lawyer (second rate) and community organizer (rebel raiser)...not leadership material domestically or on foreign policy.

        June 19, 2012 at 10:06 am |
      • DEcember 2012



        June 19, 2012 at 10:31 am |
      • John

        Amazing – throbbing member 2012 is the biggest hater who posts here and he tries to call others haters because they disagree with what Obama is doing to this country. We reap what we sew and the repercussions of what Obama has done over the past 3.5 years is showing in the hate coming from both sides.
        These stupid libs think everyone who disagrees with Obama is a racist and a hater when it is them who are the haters. Obama has ruined this country. It will take the next president years to recover from the mess Obama made of this country.

        June 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
      • DEcember 2012



        June 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
      • jean2009

        President Obama,is doing a remarkable job...it is great that he can be at ease, gracious, and laugh with a world leader such as Mr. Putin with whom we have serious differences. It shows President Obama is representing us as any educated well grounded adult who is up to the job would.
        Obama-Biden 2012

        June 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
      • jean2009

        @John ...look up the difference between "sew" and 'sow".

        June 19, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  3. norma jean.

    Can't you just picture Mitt Romney in a serious conversation about world affairs with Russias Putin?.....Now that's something to make one take voting very seriously!!!..... . By the way Jerry.....if our president is a fraud and pathelogical liar as you assess him....you must have a facinating world of knowledge and interesting acquaintances to base your judgement on??

    June 19, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • John

      He is a liar. Let us take the one everyone knows about – ya know, when he was given the State Of The Union Speech? You know, when he said illegals would not be getting healthcare??
      In the first nine months of 2010, the estimated cost of MassHealth for “illegal immigrants” was placed at $33.8 million, with illegal aliens constituting 69 percent of all subscribers. In addition, an estimated 52,000 illegal aliens used free emergency room services at a cost of $35.7 million, funded by taxpayers.

      June 19, 2012 at 9:33 am |
      • weforgot911

        So someone comes into the emergency room dying and the Doctors must first determine if he belongs in this country or not before the person gets treated?

        June 24, 2012 at 9:14 am |
      • Jefferson

        Oh how I love the beach too, Nina! I love the sounds of the ocean as the waves roll in and break along the shore line. It is wordenful to hear that you and your family hada great time there. You will have to share your pictures with me soon!

        July 30, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  4. RS, CA

    Can't wait until President Romney restores dignity and trust.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:28 am |
    • Realitybites

      To what? That man doesn't have a decent bone in his body.

      June 19, 2012 at 7:38 am |
      • John

        You know him on a personal level or are you just spewing the hate from the left?
        Romney has given more money to charity to help others than ANY 3 LIBS you can name combined. He will be good for this country and the working people who have been treated like dirt by this president.
        You think Obama the coke/pot head who has turned this country against one another is a good guy, but Romney is not? Why?

        June 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
      • Viraj

        Regarding Romney it's hard to say what would have happened. He rlaley ran a pretty dang poor campaign. Worse than McCain's in many ways. I think the best thing that could have happened to him was to lose the nomination and come back wiser (and in a situation not stacked against him as this year was)HammerHead, I tend to agree. I disliked McCain a lot in 2000 and was actually pretty excited by the recall movement in Arizona that died when 9/11 happened. I though he was a horrible candidate. But then there wasn't anyone I was excited about. Romney has the skill but rlaley came off in an unappealing way. It was a bad year for Republicans in many ways. McCain, while being right about a lot of policies just scares me in the same way Bush did. It's all about gut rather than thoughtful reasoning.

        August 2, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • DEcember 2012


      June 19, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • jean2009

      Surely you jest. Gordon Gecko?

      June 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  5. scott

    If that was Romney, he would have told Putin how its going to be, and what happens if Russia does not agree. Russia would back down to Romney, now Obama is a different story, Putin knows Obama is a kiss butt and weak. So he feels secure telling Obama wear to get off.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:35 am |
    • Realitybites

      Correct. The fins of the flippy flopper would have thrown Putin off just enough to confuse him into an unwanted agreement.

      June 19, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • jean2009


      June 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • weforgot911

      "wear to get off"? Shows your lack of education. I wonder what he wears to get off could be taken a little differently then you intended. LOL

      June 24, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  6. Dean

    Obama is out of his league.

    June 19, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Cynthia L.

      Dean, are you applying for a job to run Mitt's car elevator? That's probably your speed.

      June 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  7. Jerry

    Putin seemed to be a cool dude; Mr. Obama seemed to be acting like another angry Black man. He seemed to be gesturing: "Comrade Putin, if we can't play by my rules, I am going to get angrier, get may bat, glove and ball and go raise some extra cushion political funds or, go play golf". Mr. Putin seemed to say: "Ignoramus, whatever"!

    Is this divisive dictator over his head or what?!

    NOTE to John Kerry: You don't even come close!!! You have always mooched off of taxpayers; in one way or another.

    June 19, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Cynthia L.

      You think Putin is a cool dude?? You must be a KGB Russian troll. The man wants to be czar and even his own people aren't buying it. And, if you are impressed with Putin's shirtless appearance, you should'a seen his 'Hockey Game' against professional players. BWAH_HA_HA_HA!!

      June 19, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  8. curious

    Putin would relish a Rmoney presidency. How long would it take for Rmoney to learn the job of being president. To believe that someone who has never done s job would step right in and perform like a veteran is stupid.

    June 19, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • NOvember 2012

      the world will relish a Romney presidency.... amateur hour is over.

      June 19, 2012 at 10:02 am |
      • DEcember 2012


        June 19, 2012 at 10:32 am |
      • mike

        of course they will they will use him like toilet paper just the way his party is now. He cant say a word without the ok of higher ups. He is not a leader he is just a mouthpiece for the extremes in our society. Frankly I would be very scared if he ever one the presidency..very scared

        June 19, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  9. NOvember 2012

    obama looks like a laughing monkey in this photo...the other photo a few days ago when obama and Putin were shaking hands..obama's hand look like a girls while Puttin's did look masculine. This is embarrassing.

    June 19, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • DEcember 2012



      June 19, 2012 at 10:37 am |
      • Frank Marshall Davis

        Next tuesday at your house just as it has always been.

        June 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
      • DEcember 2012



        June 19, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • mike

      racism is alive and well!

      June 19, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Cynthia L.

      And, Romney has an entry in the Olympics for,...wait for it,....HORSE DANCING!!

      June 19, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  10. mike

    Send Romney over there he will start a war tomorrow..that will fix them....!!!!!

    June 19, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  11. jean2009

    It's all about the tax deduction...OUCH!
    The horse didn't get him much of a tax deduction.


    June 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Frank Marshall Davis

      Cork up the kool-aid and try reality for a change.

      June 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
      • DEcember 2012



        June 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
      • jean2009

        Is a lawsuit over a dancing horse getting your goat?

        June 19, 2012 at 9:06 pm |