PARIS, France — The world diplomatic community was stunned today when U.S. President Barack Obama accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s challenge to a drinking contest.
The stakes: control of Ukraine, which Russian troops invaded several months ago.
The Paris talks between the U.S. and Russia have been ongoing since the invasion but have often been strained to the point of open hostility. But none of the assembled diplomats and journalists could have predicted a drinking contest between the two most powerful men in the world.
As aides cleared most of the room, leaving few reporters and neutral diplomats as witnesses, many bottles of alcohol were brought in. The two men exchanged awkward pleasantries and then began to drink. President Putin graciously allowed Mr. Obama to drink whatever alcohol he wanted, declaring that he, Putin, would restrict himself to only straight vodka.
Conversation during the contest was strictly off the record but included topics such as soccer, windsurfing, proper execution of false flag operations and both leaders' deep love for the Russian synth-pop band t.A.T.u.
Four hours later, a half-naked, sweaty and pale-looking Obama was rolled out on a stretcher, his chair surrounded by empty Zima bottles. The president was vomiting every 30 seconds or so into a hotel ice bucket as his detail wheeled him to the waiting Marine One transport helicopter.
For his part, Putin walked out of the room on his own power, still fully dressed in suit and tie, leaving empty vodka bottles in neat rows beside his chair. Putin announced he was a little peckish, and devoured a rack of yak ribs before going on a 10-mile jog and house-training a wild ocelot.
What the contest’s outcome will mean to Ukraine and the Balkan region in general is not clear at this time. Russian diplomats refused to comment on the contest, but the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine said he was "deeply concerned."