The meetings between U.S. and Soviet or Russian leaders have often been matters of considerable tension. Few encounters match the drama of the first state visit of Boris Yeltsin to see President Bill Clinton in September of 1994.
The usual diplomatic pressures and dominance games weren’t the source of the discomfort at that time. Instead it was pizza. And white wine. And a distinct lack of clothes.
Boris Yeltsin, Russian President, was residing as a guest in Blair House during the official state visit. After a long day of high-visibility meetings he decided he wanted some pizza. Shrewdly recognizing that having the meal delivered in the middle of the night to the Presidential guest house might prove difficult, he decided to go out for it… without his security detail, and despite being clad only in his underwear.
His decision may have been aided by the large quantities of white wine he had consumed.
Yeltsin snuck past his security and down into the basement of Blair House, intending to leave and hail a taxi. Unfortunately for him, a security guard saw him in the basement and confronted him, thinking he was a drunken intruder trying to get to the Russian President upstairs. Quickly recognizing what was happening, both Russian agents and Secret Service converged. There was a short period of high tension while both sides identified the other, and the Russian leader was escorted back upstairs.
The groups were likely primed for this sort of event, because the night before Yeltsin had been found by the Secret Service just outside of Blair House, trying to hail a taxi on Pennsylvania Avenue while drunk, calling for pizza, and clad only in his underwear.
This time, after getting him back to his room, someone finally brought him a pie.
Question of the night: What toppings do you think Boris might have wanted on his pizza?