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Photos from Putin's big meeting with China's Xi show no absurdly long tables but feature unexpectedly giant flags

Jake Epstein   

Photos from Putin's big meeting with China's Xi show no absurdly long tables but feature unexpectedly giant flags
  • Putin has met with several world leaders and Russian officials at ridiculously long tables over the past year.
  • On Tuesday, he was photographed with China's President Xi next to weirdly tall flags.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with several world leaders at absurdly long tables on numerous occasions over the last year. But for Chinese President Xi Jinping, Moscow broke out long red carpets and massive flags.

Photographs taken at the Kremlin on Tuesday show the two presidents standing next to each other, sandwiched in between giant Russian and Chinese flags. It's not immediately clear how tall the flags are, though they both appear to be significantly taller than Xi, who stands under 6 feet tall, and his shorter counterpart Putin.

The photoshoot was set up in a giant hallway, and the two world leaders came together at an intersection of two red carpets as officials looked on.

Tuesday's appearance of giant flags is not the first time during a meeting with world leaders that the proportions of a prop were a little strange. Since February 2022, the Russian leader has held several high-profile meetings at really long or comically massive tables — in Moscow and abroad.

Putin met with French President Emmanuel Macron at 13-foot-long table in Moscow a little over a week before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. That same table was used just two months later in late April for a conversation with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

The following month, in May 2022, Putin swapped the Kremlin's long table for a big round one to meet with members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which is a military alliance of former Soviet states.

A few weeks later, Putin met with heads of state from Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan at a massive rectangular table. Photographs of the June meeting, held at a hotel in Turkmenistan, drew plenty of attention and quickly made the rounds on social media.

Putin has reportedly used the long tables in some circumstances as a measure of precaution against contracting COVID-19.

Putin's much-anticipated series of meetings with Xi during the first half of this week comes amid heavy scrutiny from the US and NATO, which have warned China against providing Russia with military assistance to use on the battlefield in Ukraine — something officials previously said Beijing had been contemplating but has yet to move forward with.

But throughout the war, China has provided economic and diplomatic support to Russia in the face of widespread sanctions from Western countries. Biden administration officials said this week that the two countries have grown closer, sharing an animosity for US leadership around the world.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Monday that Putin views Xi as a "lifeline" for Russia's failing battlefield performance.


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