Photo via Alexander NEMENOV

President Mauricio Macri and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin offered a joint statement at the Kremlin today, following a bilateral meeting and a “work lunch” shared by delegations from both countries. Both leaders said that the meeting was positive.

“We reconfirm our desire to develop a strategic cooperation,” began Putin, who said that “going through issues of the regional and international agenda, we see that we share several similar positions.”

The Russian President then made reference to the work breakfast that Macri held earlier in Moscow with local business leaders and assured they are “very interested in cooperating with their Argentine partners, providing safe and efficient technologies.”

Macri once again thanked Putin for the help provided by the Russian government in Argentina’s attempts to find the – still missing – ARA San Juan submarine, saying it was “yet further evidence of Russia’s love for Argentina.” He also pointed out that the meeting was “very positive,” and argued it has to be a turning point  that helps “take the relationship to the next level.”

Same as in several of his previous interactions with other heads of state, Macri found a moment to talk about football and add a dose of levity to the statement.

It was quite a bold move from Macri, considering that a previous, similar attempt had been, to put it mildly, unfruitful. In the context of the 2016 G-20 summit held in China, Macri told Putin that, thanks to Lionel Messi, Argentina would win the World Cup Russia is scheduled to host in June (far from amused, Putin asked Macri through his interpreter if he was making fun of him.)

However, and perhaps seizing the fact that Putin had brought up the subject a few minutes before by inviting him to the largest sporting event of the world, Macri went for it again.

“I hope to come [to Russia] three times this year: the next one with my daughter, Antonia, who wants to come to the World Cup, she wants to watch [Argentina’s] first two matches of the World Cup; I hope the third one is to watch the final. I hope we make it to the final and have better luck than in Brazil [when Argentina lost the final against Germany]. But what’s most important is to compete, and God and Messi will tell if we can won the World Cup,” he said. The interpretation of Putin’s reaction remains at the reader’s discretion.

Both leaders met at the Kremlin shortly after 2:30 PM local time, half an hour later than scheduled. When exchanging protocol pleasantries before the press, the heads of state highlighted the relevant role the other country has in their respective foreign policies.

Photo via AFP: Alexander NEMENOV
Photo via AFP: Alexander NEMENOV

“Argentina is still one of [our] most important partners in Latin America.” However, he then pointed out that “our total trade is not so large.” “There was a slight growth, by just over 3 percent, over ten months of last year. Fortunately, our relations are quite diversified and we have many areas of prospective cooperation. I am certain we will discuss the upcoming major sports event, the World Cup in Russia. We will be glad to see you, Mr President, and numerous football fans from your country,” Putin added.

Macri reciprocated by saying “Argentina gives a lot of importance to the global strategic relationship with Russia.” He then referred to the second part of Putin’s statement and said: “I fully agree with you that there are many areas where we can continue to grow together, like trade, culture and sports. “

Photo via The Kremlin
Photo via The Kremlin

Macri then thanked Putin for the help the Russian government provided in the efforts to find the missing ARA San Juan submarine: “After we spoke on the phone, our Russian partners provided relief assistance to our efforts to find the missing submarine. This is yet further evidence of Russia’s love for Argentina.”

Later today, Macri will fly to Davos, Switzerland, to take part in the World Economic Forum, the second stop of his international trip.