(Coffee break June 16, Villa La Grange, Geneva. Time: 14.56pm – 15.09pm. Present: Russian president Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden)
V: Two sugars and a dash of almond milk isn’t it, Joe?
J: Vlad, you’ve got your spies everywhere, haven’t you?
V: (shoulder shrug) You might think that. Anyway, you can’t talk Joe. You have got big ears everywhere. You even spy on Angela and your so-called EU friends. Don’t get all innocent with me Joe. You’re not as lily-white as your teeth.
(pause… stirs his coffee)
How did the 45th president like his coffee? You know, “your man in Washington…”
V: You mean “Putin’s puppy”.
(They both laugh)
Donald was more a Diet-Coke-and-straw-in a-cup president. He was a real slurper and what you Americans say…,a… um, a straw president. He was softie, like his soft drinks.
(They both laugh)
J: Well, he’s on the rocks now my friend.
V: Be careful, my friend. Old Russian proverb: Never trust a wounded bear.
(pause … Vladimir sips his coffee. Puts down his cup and looks Biden in the eye)
By the way, do you want the tape? You know, the “pee-pee tape” at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow. I’ve got it here in my pocket. In fact, I’ve got a “Best of Donald” dossier that we can talk about.
Easy swap. Let’s see… Ukraine becomes Our-kraine, and it’s yours. What do you think?
J: No, no, no … please Vlad no tricks. Please. You wily, old KGB coyote.
(pause – Vladimir sips his coffee. Joe’s coffee remains untouched)
Yeah, you had 45 in your pocket, didn’t you?
V: No, it’s you Americans that like your 45s in your pockets.
J: Seriously, though Vladimir… is it true?
V: Is what true?
J: You know the pee-pee tape…?
V: Well, it’s up to you. “For Your Eyes Only”, as your Mr Bond would say.
(Joe looks around).
Just put it on my saucer.
(Vladimir pulls a tiny USB stick out of his pocket and places it on the American president’s coffee saucer. Joe takes it and puts it in his pocket)
Thanks. So, how’s the bear wrestling?
V: Great. Aaah… yes, of course, we are friends on Facebook. The bear shoots take a bit of time and energy. We’re all getting a bit long in the tooth, aren’t we, old Joe? It takes a bit out of you. These days even riding bare-back, bare-chested with a crossbow makes my bones ache. It’s unbearable.
J: Yeah, well my friend, I’ll be basking in the sunshine in Florida in a few years. You’ll be president for the next 22 years. So that’ll make you about 90, eh? Makes me look a like a spring chicken. God, you guys love the old iron dictator, super-glue grip, don’t you? Just can’t let go.
V: Keeps me young. I’ve got lots of projects. (smiles)
J: I bet you do. They tell me you’re a closet fan of climate change.
V: Best thing that happened in Russia for ages, and I mean since the Ice Age. Siberia will be the new riviera. We’re turning Solzhenitsyn’s camp into a theme park. The Arctic Sea will be the new Suez. The old Suez will be in the sewers. That’s a joke, Joe. C’mon drink up Joe… your coffee is getting cold.
J: No, not really thirsty. You might call it the Navalny effect. What is with you guys? Is that the only thing you learned from Chernobyl?
V: Come on Joe, that was a cup of tea, or so I’m told. And I had nothing to do with it. I was bear wrestling at the time with Steven Seagal and Gerard Depardieu. You should try it.
J: No, bears are not my cup of tea. Panda wrestling seems to be my new sport. I think I might need to borrow your crossbow. Anyway, I’m just glad that you wore a shirt and suit for Geneva, Vladimir.
V: Ha ha… (smiles) C’mon! Next summit in Geneva. And, we can have a judo match instead of talking all this hot air. We might actually get a result.
J: Well, we better get out there and at least agree on something. The world is looking for a “stable and predictable” relationship.
V: Well Joe, I do like the Villa la Grange. Let’s agree on another summit. That’s about the best I can do… How can I trust you with all the other stuff? You won’t even drink your coffee. When are your free? Drink up and let’s go and face the world.
J: Okay Vladimir, let’s go. You talk about bear wrestling. I’ll talk about panda wrestling. See you soon back in sunny Geneva.
(The two men exit to the sound of flashing bulbs and journalists’ questions)