Russian President Vladimir Putin has been putting the West’s nose out of joint — but his COVID testers couldn’t get near Emmanuel Macron’s.
The French president refused to take a Russian COVID-19 PCR test in Moscow on Monday and so was forced to sit at an oversized table during Ukraine talks with Putin, an Elysée official told reporters Thursday.
The Kremlin had offered Macron two options: Either he could be tested by a Russian doctor, or he would have to make socially distanced arguments across a 4-meter-long table.
“The protocol conditions enabling a meeting between both heads of state with a lesser distancing … were imposing a sanitary protocol that seemed to us neither acceptable nor compatible with our schedule constraints,” the Elysée official said.
Reuters reported that Macron refused to get tested over fears that his DNA could be stolen in the process.
“We knew very well that meant no handshake and that long table. But we could not accept that they get their hands on the president’s DNA,” a source close to Macron told Reuters.
The Elysée official did not confirm it was the reason for Macron’s refusal, but hasn’t issued a concrete denial either. “The president has doctors who define with him what he is to accept or not when it comes to sanitary protocol,” the official said.
Giorgio Leali contributed reporting.