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Why is Vladimir Putin so late for meetings with world leaders?

In 2014 the Russian President kept Angela Merkel waiting more than four hours

Tom Batchelor
Tuesday 03 January 2017 23:48 GMT
The Russian President kept the Queen waiting for 14 minutes before their meeting in 2003
The Russian President kept the Queen waiting for 14 minutes before their meeting in 2003 (Julian Herbert/Getty Images)

Better late than never appears to be an adage Vladimir Putin stands by religiously.

The Russian leader has earned a reputation for keeping other world leaders waiting, and even royalty and the Pope can’t force the Kremlin chief to stick to a tight timetable.

In fact, the Russian leader has such poor timekeeping skills that aides are often kept waiting hours on end.

But his tardiness extends to dignitaries and high-powered officials too.

(Statista (Statista)

Data compiled by Statista for The Independent shows how on one occasion in 2014 the Russian President kept his German counterpart Angela Merkel waiting for four hours and 15 minutes.

In close second is former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych, who in 2012 waited four hours for his meeting with Mr Putin.

But waits of up to three hours are also common, with leaders of countries as varied as Japan, Mongolia and Israel forced to wait to speak with the former KGB operative.

Mr Putin’s penchant for arriving late for meetings first hit the headlines in 2003 when he kept Queen Elizabeth II waiting for almost a quarter of an hour.

Longer delays were experienced by the kings of Spain and Sweden.

Pope Francis was left standing for almost an hour before he met Mr Putin at the Vatican City in 2015.

And even US President Barack Obama was forced to delay his plans by 40 minutes in 2012 as Mr Putin was running late.

But why does the Russian leader have such a poor record on timekeeping for some of the most important people in the world?

He may be a busy man but so are the other world leaders forced to fit their schedules around his.

Some put his tardiness down to psychological games, given that he is often on time for press conferences and television interviews.

Putin quotes

After the delayed meeting with Pope Francis, Mr Putin took the unusual move of instructing his aides to issue a statement explaining the late start.

His spokesman Dmitry Peskov said an earlier meeting had overran and went on to blame Italian traffic.

Others say Mr Putin keeps other leaders waiting to stamp his authority on the world stage.

Those more sympathetic to the Russian leader say he is often late because he likes to check pertinent facts before a high-level meeting.

An anonymous source quoted by Moscow daily newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets said: “Before important meetings he often double-checks sources of information, delves into things, as a result he gets behind schedule.”

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