July 16, 2018 12:33 pm
Updated: July 16, 2018 12:55 pm

Trump-Putin summit: Experts explain possible power plays between 2 leaders

ABOVE: U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin would have "things" to talk about, including trade, military and their "mutual friend" China.


U.S. President Donald Trump sat down with Russian President Vladamir Putin in Finland on Monday, the first one-on-one, behind-closed-doors meeting with the two leaders.

Before the 90-minute meeting kicked off, Putin and Trump sat down and took questions in front of reporters — but it was about a half hour behind schedule as the Russian leader was late.

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READ MORE: Trump says private meeting with Putin a ‘very good start’

Between the tardiness, the firm handshake an the relaxed slouching in the chair — was Putin trying to size up Trump?

Here are some experts that weighed in on the topic.

Putin arrives late

Putin was around 40 minutes late for the meeting, with some speculating it could have been a power play.

“Putin does not hesitate to be late for a meeting,” said Seva Gunitsky, associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto. Putin is known for this and, to some extent, uses tardiness as a show of power.

WATCH: Vladimir Putin arrives in Helsinki for summit with Donald Trump

“This meeting was only late 45 minutes, which is pretty short by his [Putin’s] standards. But given it was with Trump, it’s a bit surprising.”

Putin has also been late for meeting with other high profile officials, such as Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Francis.

In 2016, he arrived in Japan over two hours behind schedule for talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Body language

Judi James, author and body language expert, said there was a lot of body language to dissect between the two leaders.

“The pre-meeting body language made both Trump and Putin look like a nearly-divorced couple at a last-ditch counselling session. Both men arrived with puffed chests and surly faces and both pulled at their jackets as though spoiling for a fight,” she told Global News over email.

READ MORE: Trump blames U.S. ‘foolishness and stupidity’ for poor relations with Russia

She said Putin “returned little of the sparse eye contact from Trump” and maintained a poker face during the chat.

“There was little eye contact between the two men and their handshake was perfunctory and lacking in any proper eye contact connection,” she said.

Gunitsky said although both men walked into the room trying to portray “alpha males,” he would not read too much into the body language.

“I think, depending on how you feel, you can read into what you like,” he said.

“To me, the body posture of Putin, was more relaxed than slouching. He wants this to be more formal, trying to bypass a lot of Trump’s advisors and obstacles that stand in way of building a relationship with the U.S.,” he said.

Gunitsky said the Russian leader’s relaxed nature may have been to appeal to Trump, “who sees some of himself in Putin, in the sense that he is a powerful leader who can talk tough and build relationships.”

Body language expert Lillian Glass agreed with Gunitsky.

“Putin is very relaxed around Trump and feels comfortable. He is slouching because he knows he is meeting a formidable counterpart, as both are equally strong leaders and men,” she told Bustle.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

In terms of the handshake between the two leaders. Glass told Bustle that they approached it with a strength that was not overbearing on either side.

Putin was avoiding direct eye contact with Trump, but did look down at their handshake, she said.

“Putin may have squeezed Trump extra hard, as you can see by the blanching of Trump’s skin near his pointer finger,” she said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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