Why Donald Trump Touched Under Vladimir Putin’s Arm During Handshake


U.S. President Donald Trump was alongside his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin at the G20 meeting on Friday when he did something a bit different with his handshake.

The German government captured the footage backstage at the meeting, by mounting a video camera on top of the official photographer’s camera.

In one part of the clip, the presidents are seen shaking hands but Trump uses his spare hand to pat the underside of Putin’s arm.


Exklusive Perspektive! Nicht stören – aber alles im Blick haben, das ist die Arbeit der offiziellen Fotografen. Wir haben unserem Kollegen eine Videokamera auf seine Fotokamera gesetzt. Ganz besondere Einblicke in das informelle Treffen der #G20-Chefs, das so genannte „Retreat“: Exclusive perspective! We put a video camera on our foto colleague’s camera showing you very special insights into the informal meeting of G20, the so-called "retreat":

Posted by Bundesregierung on Friday, 7 July 2017

Earlier in the day, Trump had tweeted to say he was looking forward to meeting Vladimir Putin saying there was ‘much to discuss’.

President Trump, who along other leaders will remain in Hamburg until tomorrow, had reportedly never met Putin until yesterday.

So what does it mean?

Some people have suggested Donald is trying to ‘assert power’, others are saying it’s a symbol of ‘support’.

Body language expert and published author, Judi James, says she thinks it was ‘all about dominance and the symbolic drawing of weapons’. She said Trump ‘hosted’ the whole event.


Talking to BBC, she said:

What I found interesting was that we have two world leaders who are marinated in machismo. Both of them like to do the puffed chest, they both like to be the strongest, they like to do the power patting when they shake hands.

I was fascinated because Trump won every round, if it was a boxing match, he won on points. But that in itself was slightly worrying because Putin is no slouch when it comes to body language.

A lot of people thought that Trump looked nervous, he was sitting forward quite a lot in his seat but what he was doing was, they both had very splayed legs – Trump was doing power steepling though, with his hands, and what he was doing was hosting the whole event.

All of that patting technique, that’s diminishing the perceptual power of the other person.

Whatever it means, it’s got people talking…

Watch this space…