Sources: Wildly Long Table for Putin, Macron Was No Accident

Members of French leader's team say he feared DNA being swiped, wouldn't take COVID test
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2022 7:20 AM CST
Sources: Macron Feared DNA Swipe, Nixed Putin COVID Test
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to French President Emmanuel Macron during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow on Monday.   (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

(Newser) – The Citizen Kane-like table that Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin sat at earlier this week during their talks on the Russia-Ukraine standoff wasn't just symbolic. Two members of the French leader's team tell Reuters that Macron was told he had to take a Russian COVID test before meeting with his Russian counterpart, or the two would be forced to adhere to strict social distancing—and Macron chose the latter, worried that he'd be giving away a sample of his genetic makeup to the Kremlin by taking the PCR test. "We knew very well that meant no handshake and that long table," one source says. "But we could not accept that they get their hands on [Macron's] DNA."

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged that Macron said "non" to the test and insisted there was "no politics" involved in keeping him at a great distance from Putin, whose health had to be protected. "The Russians told us Putin needed to be kept in a strict health bubble," one of Macron's sources agreed. Insider notes that Putin is said to have been "exceptionally cautious" about his health during the pandemic, surrounded by rigid health and safety protocols put in place by his security forces—including a tunnel into his Novo-Ogaryovo palace that sprays visitors with disinfectant.

Macron did reportedly take both a PCR test in France before flying to Moscow, as well as an antigen test when he got there—but one given by his own doctor. The 13-foot table the two world leaders sat at became the subject of online jokes and memes, as well as a lot of head-scratching. Some wondered if the Russian leader was sending a "diplomatic message," as the BBC puts it. The official word out of Macron's office on the COVID test refusal doesn't reference DNA pilfering but states the Russian results would've taken too long to get back. When pressed on the DNA question, the office noted: "The president has doctors who define with him the rules that are acceptable or not in terms of his own health protocol." (Read more Emmanuel Macron stories.)

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