Judo Master Putin Is More Politically Savvy Than Trump and Spared Macron in Handshake, Boasts Russian Media

Fresh off a now-famous handshake with Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron grasped Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin's hand on Monday, under close media attention.

While Russia's state media was largely impressed by the elaborate ceremony around Putin's first time visiting Macron, pro-Kremlin outlets kept a close eye on the pair's interactions.

Read more: Macron blasts Russian state media as "lying propaganda" in front of Putin

Pro-government Moscow paper Moskovsky Komsomolets hailed Macron's reception of Putin as a "king's" reception at the palace of Versailles. The paper noted that the two leaders, who shook hands numerous times during Putin's tour of the palatial premises, came at a time when footage of Trump and Macron's bone-crushing handshake is still being widely discussed in France and elsewhere. Twice the paper claimed the U.S. leader nearly "broke" or almost "tore off" Macron's hand, who in turn appeared to clasp Trump's hand when the former reality TV star attempted to pull away.

With Putin's self-styled reputation as a former street fighter and his frequently flaunted mastery of three martial arts, some may have expected him to outdo Trump.

"This time [Macron] faced a meeting not only with an experienced and influential politician but also with a master of judo," the paper added.

"However Putin opted not to test Macron's strength, reining back his greeting," the paper reported, drawing attention to the fact that Putin's left hand also touched Macron's shoulder. "According to psychologists such a handshake indicates a friendly disposition and a readiness for earnest dialogue."

In what seemed like a subtle dig at Trump's lack of experience in public office, the paper claimed Putin's sense of "protocol" had been learned from many years on the job.

Influential business daily Kommersant had a colder reading of the meeting, noting the pair often called each other "he" often rather than using official titles—a sign of reverence—or first names, a token of friendship.

The pair's first handshake outside the palace was "weak," the paper claimed, while their second, instigated by Macron at the conference, forced Putin to reach for it. "Why did Emmanuel Macron do this? You think about it," the paper said.

Should one of them seek the upper hand at their next meeting, it will likely be during Putin's turn to play host. He invited Macron to visit him soon.