It was a massively awkward situation, to say the least. It was the commemoration of the D-Day; but when it comes to politics, the most essential thing is to read between the lines.
The so called D-Day Normandy Landings commemoration couldn't have come in a more anxious time, as the Western countries are ratcheting up their warnings to Russia for their advance towards Eastern Ukraine, even as Vladimir Putin's choice to swallow Crimea has become indigestible to the International community.
As world figures met in France amid the ongoing geopolitical crisis, all eyes were on Barack Obama and Putin – the two men in the centre of all the theatricals.
As they posed for a group photo before lunch, the two leaders, understandably, appeared to be avoiding each other deliberately. And as though all the things in the ceremony was against him, a photograph from the event shows Putin's face glowing with red color from the reflection of the carpet underneath, while a smiling face of Obama appears before him.
As speculation grew on whether or not they spoke to each other, the White house confirmed that they did – 'for 10-15 minutes'.
The White House Statement said that the conversation happened inside the chateau where the leaders were eating. It did not elaborate on what the two men discussed, but Obama had earlier said that he would ask Putin to engage with Ukraine's new leadership.
"President Obama and President Putin did speak with each other on the margins of the leaders' lunch," his assistant Ben Rhodes said, reported Daily Mail. "It was an informal conversation – not a formal bilateral meeting."
A video posted online by French Government shows the two leaders engaging in a very awkward conversation where the Russia leader is seen refusing to even look at Obama as the latter appears to convince him for something:
A readout of the 15-minute conversation released by White House officials later said that Obama warned Putin that de-escalation of the sanctions, that are planned against Russia "depends upon Russia recognizing President-elect Poroshenko as the legitimate leader of Ukraine, ceasing support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, and stopping the provision of arms and materiel across the border".
Earlier in a press conference during the meet of G7, Obama had said he would try to convince Putin to de-escalate the situation.
"I have no doubt that I'll see Mr. Putin, and he and I have always had a businesslike relationship and it is entirely appropriate that he is there to commemorate D-Day given the extraordinary sacrifices that were made of the people of the Soviet Union during World War II," Obama said. "Should we have the opportunity to talk, I will be repeating the same message that I've been delivering to him throughout this crisis."
The celebration also came just a day after Obama warned Russia over Ukraine saying Putin "has a chance to get back into a lane of international law."
"The mere fact that some of the Russian soldiers have moved back from the border and that Russia is now destabilizing Ukraine through surrogates, rather than overtly and explicitly, does not mean that we can afford three months, or four months, or six months, of continued violence and conflict in eastern Ukraine," Obama had said.