Russian President Vladimir Putin is notorious for arriving late to meetings with other world leaders, keeping everyone from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth to German Chancellor Angela Merkel waiting. Even the pope himself is no exception to this rule, as Putin proved on Wednesday when he arrived over an hour late to the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis.
The pontiff might not have been terribly surprised, however, given that this is the second time in a row Putin has kept him waiting for a meeting. During his first visit to meet with Francis at the Vatican in November 2013, Putin arrived 50 minutes late -- a record he broke on Wednesday by arriving 67 minutes late, according to Crux News’ Vatican correspondent Ines San Martin.
Putin has arrived at Vatican 1 hour late pic.twitter.com/vKjSiz5jZc
— Catholic News Svc (@CatholicNewsSvc) June 10, 2015
Francis was, in fact, the second world leader Putin kept waiting on Wednesday. The Russian president also arrived an hour late to meet with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Milan, where the two heads of state discussed the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and European Union sanctions against Moscow for its annexation of Crimea.
The one hour wait time endured by Francis and Renzi comes behind Queen Elizabeth’s 14 minutes and Merkel’s 40 on the list of leaders Putin has kept waiting. But it’s nothing compared to the three hours U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was kept waiting for Syria talks in 2013, not to mention former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s four-hour wait for gas talks in 2012.
Putin’s habit has divided commentators, with some attributing it to his meticulous preparations ahead of meetings and others arguing that it is a psychological power play. Russian political commentator Dmitriy Abramov told the BBC that Putin’s “affected lateness” was "born of a desire to demonstrate that he occupies a 'tsar's place' in world politics, as in the heyday of the Russian empire."
Regardless of the reason, Putin’s tardiness with the pope has inspired some criticism on social media:
— David Clinch (@DavidClinchNews) June 10, 2015
— Silver Surfer (@RobPulseNews) June 10, 2015
Putin was an hour late for a meeting with the Pope. Waiting for the #ImGoingToHellForThis statement from Russian PR.
— Spencer Campbell (@Scambl) June 10, 2015
Pretty ballsy of Putin to show up to his meeting with Pope Francis an hour late! Luckily for him, I'm sure forgiveness will be given
— Laura E. Soto (@LauraE1988) June 10, 2015