Obama's phone-calls to Putin are never a joyride and this latest one about the unrest in Ukraine was no exception. World leaders often have to warily pick up the phone and talk to each other about critical bilateral or international issues, to offer their congratulations on momentous occasions (centennial anniversaries of prominent international status, birth of triplets, 4th consecutive reelection, etc), or sometimes to pay their respects for some calamity that has befallen one of them (a death in the family excl. pets, a nuclear accident, economic ruin, etc), so this is nothing new to them.

 

Notwithstanding the long distance calling charges and the time difference, no Premier really cares for these often awkward and stilted calls, especially when they are between adversarial personas, when it is about a high-stake matter and/or when one of the interlocutors has a heavy accent, he hisses or lisps. An additional inconvenience for a renowned leader is to have to be the one to make the call, there is always the risk the call will go straight to voicemail. Some rulers only pick up on the third attempt to project unavailability and implicitly place the caller in a despondent mood. Others more brass, who want to convey superiority, sometimes feign indisposition and cut the call short on a pretext of little credence (a Minister chocking on a pretzel). Of course the worse kind is the chaterboxes who feel the need to inform their counterparts in excruciating detail of that recent moose hunting trip they shot and taxidemized that beauty hanging in their office or the backroom gossip and hushed antics from the latest Davos or APEC meetings.

 

Telephone chats between POTUS and Putin are frequently terse and at times chilling as the latter is not the talkative or forthcoming type. Vlad has a tendency to unnerve his interlocutors and particularly likes to insert long silences before answering questions to throw them off guard and stoke apprehension and paranoia. (Obama: "Is he thinking how to respond to my caustic remark or is he polishing his rifle and got carried away?"). Obama has by now of course acquired a good understanding of Vlad's quirks and mannerisms but Vlad is always vying to undermine that sense of security and familiarity by devising new tricks. Sometimes he embarks on a nerve-wracking, minutes-long coughing fit just to annoy and vex Obama and then blame it on the previous day's shirtless horse-ride through Gorky park ("Lyudmila Putina told me to wear a vest but did I listen?") Barack, nonplussed in general disposition, usually browses on his iPad during these long intervals or looks out for Bo & Sunny prancing around the Rose Garden. One time he (Obama) attempted himself to feign an asthma attack but it didn't go down so well, (Vlad thought he was being orally serviced in a sexually manner by some perky intern) so that was the end of that.

 

When the conversation reaches some heated level of argumentation Vlad may suddenly start to sigh to convey low regard for his interlocutor's arguments. In these instances Barack has recently started to counter-sign to point out his even lower regard to Putin's claims. On this latest call, they broke the previous record of continuous sighing for 5' 10'' by 20 seconds.

 

When it came to the issues at hand, Obama pleading for Russia to stop stoking unrest in eastern Ukraine, Vlad, an adherent to the Autocratic Edition of the Handbook of Intl. Relations, casually denied these allegations as "baseless fabrications" and instead blamed the unrest on the CIA stirring right-wing persecution of Ukrainian russophones. The call was even more tedious for Obama considering he had to spend a quarter of an hour earlier that same day listening to Hollande taking about his girl-friend's acting skills and how drafty the Élysée Palace is.

 

Ukraine crisis: Obama warns Putin that Moscow faces further action

Apr.15, 2014 | RUSSIAN GLAS•NOT

POTUS to PUTIN: Ukrainian Booty Call