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Putin famously used very long tables for meetings, such as during the meeting with Macron in February 2022:

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or with his own military (in Feb)

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However it looks like he switched to using normal tables, as evidenced by this photo from August. When did Putin stop using very long tables and did he ever explain his decision?

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    How do you conclude that Putin stopped using long tables in general from this one example?
    – quarague
    Aug 19 at 9:43
  • It's clear those were the norm in Feb; there are many more photos here.
    – Fizz
    Aug 19 at 14:13
  • Apparently there was a huge peak/surge of Covid in Russia from Jan to March (and has been much less this summer), but I'm not sure his personal behavior/decisions are 100% based on that. He claimed to have been vaccinated last fall with multiple boosters ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/…
    – Fizz
    Aug 19 at 14:19
  • But he used it again to meat the head of the UN at the end of April news.yahoo.com/… so it's probably not the case he completely stopped using it.
    – Fizz
    Aug 19 at 14:27
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    OTOH he met closely with Bolsonaro in Feb, news.sky.com/video/… so it's probalby incorrect to conclude there it was based on the time of the meeting.
    – Fizz
    Aug 19 at 14:30

2 Answers 2

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Putin met in similar conditions at the end of April with the head of the UN, and at a multi-head meeting in Turkmenistan at the end of June. (This despite that Putin says he received multiple Covid vaccine boosters, FWTW.) So he probably still socially distances the same way (as pictured multiple times in Feb) from those who don't take the Kremlin's strict Covid tests. Those who were meeting said conditions, like Bolsonaro, met at much closer range, even back in Feb. So the time the meeting took place appears to have little role here; protocol was apparently the determining factor. I don't know exactly why he met at "long range" with his own power circle back in Feb. I'm guessing that had less to do with them refusing to take all the tests and was rather based on other considerations, which I could not find officially stated. One might guess that the time pressure of the invasion-related meetings made following the strict Covid protocols more difficult. Actually, they did kinda comment on that too, apparently they were extra measures for the recently discovered Omicron, then.

15/02/2022

On Monday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu were forced to sit several metres away from Putin as they delivered reports on Ukraine.

Asked about these distancing measures, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday they were "temporary".

He said they were in place to avoid the highly-contagious and often asymptomatic Omicron variant.

"There is nothing terrible or special here. We are going through times that dictate special measures," Peskov told reporters.

There's footage from 2020 of Shoigu getting tested (when returning from Syria), so undoubtedly he wasn't test-shy.

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The tables were used in particular context - the Covid pandemics, claimed to be a social distancing measure. While the exaggerated table length was likely a way of destabilizing and ridiculing the negotiation opponents, it is incorrect to suggest that the practice was used before or after the pandemics context.

Reuters reports:

French President Emmanuel Macron refused a Kremlin request that he take a Russian COVID-19 test when he arrived to see President Vladimir Putin this week, to prevent Russia getting hold of Macron's DNA, two sources in Macron's entourage told Reuters.

As a result, the visiting French head of state was kept at a distance from the Russian leader during lengthy talks on the Ukraine crisis in Moscow.

They were photographed at opposite ends of a table so long that it provoked satirical comment on social media and speculation, including by diplomats, that Putin might be using it to send a message.

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  • Did Putin declare the pandemic to be over sometime since June? (That’s when he seems to have last used such a table) Aug 19 at 7:55
  • @JonathanReez see the Reuters article linked. This was widely covered in the media at the time, so your question is really poorly researched (note that I am not downvoting.) Aug 19 at 7:56
  • Reuters implies that Macron sat far away because he refused to take a DNA test but Putin met his own government officials in a similar setting later in the same month: youtu.be/hGT78_sKRZc. Did they refuse to get tested too? Aug 19 at 8:39
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    So is the pandemic over in Russia? Is that what you're saying? Did Putin declare victory over that like Kim Jong Un (or even like Macron did at one point)?
    – Fizz
    Aug 19 at 14:00
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    @Fizz I said only what I said. Any distortions or conclusions that you draw are of your own making. Aug 19 at 14:17

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