It is morning in Санкт-Петербург (Saint Petersburg) and opening day for the G20 Summit has arrived. The weather is cool with the current temperature at 11 degrees C (52 degrees F for our American readers) but it is sunny.
As for the important stuff, it has been worked out that President Putin and President Obama will shake hands. That’s it–no meetings unless someone flinches.
Normally world leaders do shake hands but after Mr. Obama publicly labeled Mr. Putin as a slouching and pouting school boy when Mr. Putin refused to go along with Obama’s idea of using the US military as the Air Force for his Islamic buddies, the two began their own little cold war and the shaking of hands had to be negotiated before the opening day.
Primary hosting of the G20 will be at the historic Constantine Palace, the official residence of the Russian President when in Russia’s northern capital city. The Hermitage and Peterhof will also be used. Constantine Palace is a world heritage site often called the “Versailles of the North.”
It is often called by the name Стрельна (Strelna), the name of the St Petersburg suburb where the palace is located. Construction on Constantine palace began in 1720. It was bombed heavily by the Germans in WWII.
The good news is that Palace Chef Yuri Geogrievech Aistov will be in the massive kitchen with his staff so you can be assured that all is well in the world. There may be bombs falling on every civilized city on the planet but what world leader would care when luscious entrees are served with names impossible to pronounce? The only one missing out will be Mr. Obama, who like Joseph Stalin of olden days, travels with his own chef and eats his own food at diplomatic events.
Traffic in Saint Petersburg is being restricted through the weekend. In the areas of the Constantine Place, the Hermitage, and the Summer Palace at Peterhof there is a ban on buses, mini vans and trucks except for police and military vehicles of those types.
(Palace photos from Contantine Palace Press Centre.)