The King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, and Russian president Vladimir Putin, met for a beer at the Winter Olympics in Sochi at a time of tension between the two countries.
Putin toasts someone at the Holland Heineken House. King Willem is seated on the left in the orange tie. Photo credit: Associated Press
The brief meeting took place at the Dutch pavilion at the Black Sea resort of Sochi where the games are being held and where Heineken has set up the “Holland Heineken House”.
The two heads of state apparently drank a beer together and had a, seemingly very friendly, conversation about the games.
According to Voice of Russia, Putin’s opening line was: “Are there any problems or questions?”
Queen Maxima praised the volunteers who are helping visitors and the trio traded compliments on the performance of each other’s athletes so far.
Putin repeated his opening question to the Dutch gold-medal winning speedskater Ireen Wust who entered the beer house as he was leaving.
In both cases there were, it is said, no problems but Wust said afterwards that their passing meeting was warmer than straight reports might appear.
“I got a cuddle with him,” she told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “He congratulated me and asked if everything was OK in Russia and I congratulated him on (Russian speedskater) Olga Graf, of course, for her third place (in the same race Wust had won). He was happy to see me, but then he had to leave again. But I cuddled him.”
As Putin left he apparently told a reporter that the Beer House was a “good party”.
The Sochi games have proved rather controversial, largely due to Russian anti-homosexuality laws that were passed towards the end of last year.
Many participating nations have been showing support for gay issues with the Germans choosing a rainbow uniform for their athletes.
Scottish brewer, BrewDog, meanwhile has produced a “protest beer” which takes a swipe at Putin and the homosexuality laws.
Although the meeting between the Dutch king and Putin was amicable, relations between the two countries deteriorated last year due to two incidents.
The first involved the detention of a Russian diplomat in The Hague after he was accused of mistreating his two children by neighbours and police arrived to find him drunk and barely able to stand according to reports.
Meanwhile, the Green Peace ship Arctic Sunrise is registered in the Netherlands and Holland was one of the leading voices calling for the release of its crew who tried to storm a Russian oil rig and were detained on terrorism charges.