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Putin’s Toppling Erdogan’s Chair during Handshake and its Political Overtones



Controversial political handshakes started with US president Donald Trump with his long persevering and weird kind of handshake with world powers in the first months of taking the office. As with Vladimir Putin, the story is different as his behaviour could not be easily taken for granted as a personal, and not political offense.

During the Sochi meetings with Iran and Turkey, the Russian president toppled the his Turkish counterpart’s seat while shaking his hands. Seemingly oblivious to the sound the chair made as it hit the floor, Putin turned to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, on the other side of the table, greeted him in front of the cameras, then left the room. While some analysts and correspondents described it as unwanted, Putin’s act was taken as a political move about Turkey’s future role in negotiations.

Sochi hosted the three leaders to decide on the future of their military interventions in Syrian crisis. Iran and Russia fiercely supported Syrian cewntral government and its president Bashar al-Assad during the talks while Turkey has always been a critics of Assad government in a clear siding with US coalition in the region.

Russian meme website Lentach joked that the act was Putin’s vengeance for Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet in 2015, described as a “stab in the back” by Putin at the time. “This is how we win,” the site declared. Though diplomatic relations were frosty after the plane incident, Putin and Erdogan have since made amends.

“A classic strategy by the Soviet Chekist,” former deputy chairman of Russia’s Central Bank Sergey Aleksashenko wrote on Twitter, referencing Putin’s past in the security services. “Topple the chair from beneath your rival.” “Hero,” another user joked. “We are proud of our president!” “Erdogan’s chair could not withstand Putin,” St. Petersburg’s Fontanka newspaper declared.

It’s not, however, the first time the Russian president was involved in a controversy over seat. It was in 2015 last time that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko gripped the back of Putin’s seat so long and fiercely that Putin decided to continue talks with then–French President François Hollande while standing.

The recent disputes between Trukey and Russia which culminated in terrorizing Russian diplomat in Turkey, took new position with Ankara’s no policies in regional affairs. The Turkish government’s policies, analysts say, have been under the influence of US and other western powers.