German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declined a Kremlin-administered COVID-19 test on a visit to Moscow on Tuesday, opting for a swab from one of Berlin's own doctors, a German government source told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Scholz "received a test from a German embassy doctor" upon arrival in Moscow, the official said on condition of anonymity.
All members of the German delegation were required to take three PCR tests in the four days before departure. The daily Bild reported that Moscow agreed to the exception if the PCR test was administered on Scholz's government plane under the supervision of a Russian doctor.
The move followed a similar decision by French President Emmanuel Macron during talks in Russia last week, which prompted the Kremlin to place him at an enormously long table for his talks with Vladimir Putin.
Scholz was seen seated with Putin at the same table on Tuesday. Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peksov said at the time the decision to subject Macron to the huge table was made after the French leader refused to take a COVID-19 test performed by the Kremlin's medics.
"It is linked to the fact that some follow their own rules, they don't cooperate with the host side," he said.
"Unfortunately, we will devote a significant portion of our time to issues related to the situation in Europe and to security," including Ukraine, Putin said during opening remarks at the beginning of the talks with Scholz in Moscow Tuesday.
Scholz's meeting with Putin comes a day after he travelled to Kyiv to shore up support for Ukraine during talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
"It's clear that we now have to talk about the difficult situation regarding security in Europe," the German leader said at the onset of talks with Putin.
The Russian president said that energy issues would also be on the agenda.
Western countries have warned Moscow that they could impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 – a controversial pipeline set to double supplies of Russian gas to Europe – if Russia attacks Ukraine.
The Kremlin earlier Tuesday confirmed a pullback of some Russian forces from Ukraine's borders but said the move was planned and stressed Russia would continue to move troops across the country as it saw fit.
Western countries for weeks have been sounding the alarm over a buildup of Russian troops around Ukraine and a potential invasion, saying any military action would be met with sweeping economic penalties.