Ahead of the NATO summit last week on June 27, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the alliance would be increasing the number of troops stationed along the Russian border to more than 300,000—a sevenfold increase, a move seen by many as a bid to deter the security threat Russia now poses to Europe in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.
But on the sidelines of the summit, world leaders, including U.S. president Joe Biden and French president Macron, took time to visit the El Prado Museum in Madrid where they were hosted for an official NATO dinner on June 29. Around mealtime, the nation heads were documented cruising around and taking selfies at Spain’s most significant institutions of fine arts, which is home to masterpieces by the likes of Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez.
The group was served a dinner prepared by Spanish chef Jose Andres, who himself went to Ukraine during the first months of the war in Ukraine to volunteer. The leaders were also treated to a concert by the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra.
Just prior to the dinner, world leaders including Macron, Biden, and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau perused the Prado’s storied galleries. Biden, alongside Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife Lydia Abela, was seen apparently taking a selfie in front of Velázquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas (1656).
Trudeau was spotted looking pensively off into the distance photographed in front of numerous saints, all painted by Peter Paul Rubens. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, seemingly caught in a moment gestures seductively towards the naked figurines in the painting by Ruebens.
While energy security, food security, and cybersecurity were also all mentioned in the Declaration of NATO’s stated purpose of the meeting last week, the war in Ukraine and the security of the alliance was high up on the agenda. The meeting closed on June 30 with decisions to transform and strengthen the alliance as it faced “the most serious security situation in decades.”
The leaders and their companions posed in front of for a group picture, but given the uncertainty and strife facing the entire world, could one of the Prado’s formidable and sinister works by Goya—or —have been more suited to the mood?