Mrs Merkel, who was attacked by a dog in her youth, was known by many to be uncomfortable around dogs, which led Mr Putin to bring his black Labrador called Koni into a meeting between the two in Sochi. At points during the exchange, Koni walked up close to Mrs Merkel, who was visibly uncomfortable while trying to maintain her composure. Meanwhile, President Putin sat confidently as his plan to intimidate the German Chancellor appeared to be working.
However, the move appeared to have backfired.
Mrs Merkel told reporters after the meeting: “I understand why he has to do this – to prove he is a man.
“He is afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.”
Russian media did not broadcast the German Chancellor’s powerful fight back, fearing that the damned quotes may damage the image of both Russia and its President.
Putin news: Putin brought his dog into the meeting
As Robert Service highlights in his 2019 book ‘Kremlin Winter’, the Russian President has form for deliberately attempting to intimidate political opponents before meetings with them.
According to Mr Service, when Mr Putin met former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at his Presidential Palace, he pretended to be furious at his counterpart and accused him of disrespecting the Kazakhstan President on a previous trip.
The faux outrage was used to gain an upper hand in the negotiations that were about to follow, Mr Service alleges.
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President Putin is famed for his stern negotiating posture and has often displayed this in talks with his political rivals from NATO. But, as Mr Service highlights, President Putin appears to be drawing from his unique background to try and intimidate his counterparts in the West.
Mr Putin worked for the KGB from 1975 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, leading him to eventually move into politics after heading up the security for President Boris Yeltsin.
Mr Service outlines how a former KGB agent and political colleague of Mr Putin, Vladimir Yakunin, describes his training.
He said: “I can use my demeanour almost like an instrument to help me persuade and manipulate.
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“We were taught how to subtly change the expression of our eyes, the tightness of our skin, the cast of our jaws.
“At times I can be all soft and laughter, at others I can be like a beast, but I never lose control of my emotions.”
Mr Service says in his book that while President Putin is known by other leaders as someone who listens intently, he also warns that his “friendly banter” can give way to anger if he feels threatened.