Behind Frenemy Minds: United States and Russia Hug It Out (Photos)


Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Silence is golden?

President Obama has never had trouble maintaining his poker face around Russian President Vladimir Putin (and vice versa), but things have soured between these two during what has arguably been the worst year of Washington-Moscow relations since the Soviet Union collapsed. The two leaders seem to be at a loss for words during the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland last summer, or are they biting their tongues? Here, we imagine what former presidents (and dictators) were thinking during meetings over the years. 

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"Yes, she's a fine whip, but don't get too comfortable over there, George."

Putin lets G.W. take the wheel of his 1956 Volga during a joyride before dinner at his Moscow residence in 2005. 

Don Emmert/AFP/Getty

"Enough hemming and hawing over Bosnia, Boris. Look at that beautiful foliage. You don't see those colors every day in Moscow."

President Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin meet at FDR's ancestral home in the Hudson Valley to discuss the situation in Bosnia. Later, Yeltsin told reporters that he and Clinton had agreed that "Russian armed forces will participate in these (peacekeeping operations)." 

Greg Gibson/AP

"One of these days you'll bring it in for the real thing, Boris."

President Bush and Russian President-elect Boris Yeltsin shake hands outside the White House in 1991 following their Oval Office meeting.

Boris Yurchenko/AP

"The Cold War's over, old boy, n'est-ce pas?"

President Bush warmly touches Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev as they chat before a dinner hosted by Bush at the U.S. embassy in Paris. 

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

"It's about time the wall came down, don't you think?"

President Ronald Reagan checks his watch while talking with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during a 1987 meeting in the Oval Office. 


"You need to work on your wave, Brezhnev."

Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leoniz Brezhnev greet reporters after signing the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II treaty in Vienna. 


"Lord knows I've always wanted a fine fur."

Soviet Communist Party chief Leonid Brezhnev gladly dons President Gerald Ford's fur coat—a gift from Ford after they reached a nuclear weapon agreement during a 1974 meeting in Vladivostok.

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"I don't see any cowboys out there, Nixon. Bring in the cowboys."

Brezhnev gets a tour of the Grand Canyon on President Richard Nixon's private plane en route to Nixon's so-called Western White House in San Clemente in June, 1973. 


"He's just jealous of my hair."

JFK looks warily at Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev during a 1961 two-day summit in Vienna that proved disastrous for the American president. Krushchevm, who deemed Kennedy "too intelligent and too weak," warned that it was "very unwise" for the U.S. to surround the Soviet Union with military bases. Two months later, the Berlin Wall was erected. 


"I still can't believe I never got to see Disneyland."

Krushchev smiles for the press during a 1959 visit with President Eisenhower at Camp David. 

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"A communist and a yankee walk into a bar..."

British prime minister Winston Churchill charms Josef Stalin and Franklin Rooosevelt during the 1943 Tehran Conference.