President Donald Trump has finally met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in person, and a short video clip (below) showing the two leaders shaking hands has gone viral.
In the video, which was taken at the G20 summit by a German government photographer, Trump is seen approaching Putin and extending his right hand. After Putin grips it and they begin to shake, Trump uses his left hand to pat Putin's forearm. Another clip shows Trump reaching over and patting the Russian leader on the back as they stand beside a table with other leaders.
As many have noted, Trump did not engage in his usual, aggressive handshake behavior with Putin.
"In the end, the Trump-Putin handshake appeared to be a normal one between equals, itself a notable development after many of Trump’s grip-and-grin encounters turned into battles of will," Michael Birnbaum wrote for The Washington Post.
"Trump has made an art of the powerful pump, then the yank, a move that has nearly toppled other leaders," he continued. "Peak handshake may have been reached in May in Brussels with French President Emmanuel Macron, who gripped Trump’s hand long after the U.S. leader wanted to disengage, then bragged about it later to a French newspaper."
Some speculated that Trump was acknowledging Putin's alpha status.
"Trump didn't use his domineering yank-and-pull handshake with Putin," one Twitter user wrote. "It's clear he understands he's not the dog on top today."
Others were disappointed by the banality of the exchange.
"Despite the buildup, there was nothing extraordinary about the handshake," Newsweek's Graham Lanktree wrote. "Trump touches his counterpart's arm and Putin responds by pointing a finger back. … Videos and photographs have shown him yanking the arm of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and a viral video of Trump squeezing the hand of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in February took the internet by storm. The handshake with Putin does not follow that pattern."
Lanktree goes on to quote the former U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine, Steven Pifer, who said Trump should "avoid a sense of jocularity in the photos. He shouldn’t be rude. But it doesn’t help his image back here if he’s yuking it up with Putin."
The advice comes after Trump was criticized for being too jovial around Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, during the two men's visit to the White House in May.
NBC News reports that Trump and Putin met privately during the G20 summit on July 7. Only four additional people were allowed in the room: Lavrov, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and two translators.
Trump's aides declined to say which issues would be discussed, although Trump was not expected to broach the subject of alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election.