Putin' a brave face on it! Picture of stoney-faced Theresa May and Russian leader captures tense meeting

David Harding
Not happy. Theresa May meets Vladimir Putin (EPA)

It was the frostiest of handshakes.

A grim-faced Theresa May looked far from delighted as she exchanged an ice-cold greeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Osaka.

The meeting came during a continued low point in Anglo/Russian relations.

The prime minister has insisted that the relationship between London and Moscow could not return to “business as usual”, while the suspects from the Novichok poisoning attacks in Salisbury remain free.

“It’s not business as usual and it can’t be business as usual with Russia until they stop the sort of acts we have seen them doing around the world,” she told ITV.

“We in the UK have seen the use of a nerve agent, a chemical weapon, on the streets of Salisbury.

“But we see other Russian activity around the world – we see the use of disinformation, cyber-attacks – and we need to see Russia desisting from that activity.”

Many took to social media to give their comment on the handshake.

Some backed the PM, others accused her of being undiplomatic.

To fan the flames even further, the two leaders met after Putin gave an explosive interview to the Financial Times, attacking liberalism in the West, immigration and shrugging off the poisoning of the Russian former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

Mrs May raised the issue of the poisoning of Sergei, Yulia Skripal and partners Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess in Salisbury last year (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

“Listen, all this fuss about spies and counterspies, it is not worth serious interstate relations. This [Skripal] spy story, as we say, it is not worth five kopeks. Or even £5, for that matter,” he told the newspaper.

Interestingly, the Russian photo released of the frosty handshake, did not the stern-faced PM but instead a slightly bowed Theresa May.

It was a busy morning for the Russian leader.

He also met Donald Trump at the G20, exchanging a far warmer handshake with the US president.

Asked by a reporter if Trump would challenge Putin over alleged interference in US elections, the US president turned to his counterpart, wagged his finger and said: “Don’t meddle in the election, president.”

The pair then laughed at Trump’s joke.

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