Russian President Vladimir Putin has stopped off on the way to a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today to attend the wedding of Austria’s Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl – and brought a “gift” of an all-singing, all-dancing Cossack choir.
In a move which has prompted considerable consternation both internally and externally, 53-year-old Ms Kneissl asked Mr Putin if he would attend the service, at a vineyard in the south of the country – and he responded by accepting her invitation, and danced arm in arm with her after she and new husband Wolfgang Mellinger tied the knot.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his deputy, Heinz-Christian Strache will also attend the event, which saw Ms Kneissl marry entrepreneur Mr Meilinger.
In a bizarre twist, various media outlets Mr Putin brought the choir to perform the wedding as a “gift” to the newlyweds.
The foreign ministry had previously said the event was a private affair, with the media excluded, but Mr Putin’s attendance has raised its profile enormously, especially given that he is scheduled to meet Mrs Merkel at her country retreat just outside Berlin for talks.