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Putin And Berlusconi Pop A Cork On A Ukrainian Wine Dispute

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Vladimir Putin has often said to thumb his nose at critics of the Russian aggression in Crimea. This week, he may have also paused for his nose to smell the rich bouquet.

President Putin took Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister on a tour of the Massandra Winery in Crimea, which reportedly has the largest wine collection in the world. Russians took over the wineries, so it's been placed on the European Union's official sanctions list. But sanctions didn't deter a couple of old friends from G8 summit meetings from popping the cork on a 1775 Jerez de la Frontera, a Spanish wine brought to the sellers during the reign of Catherine the Great.

Prosecutors in the Ukrainian government, now in exile, say the wine is - or was - worth more than $90,000, so they've opened a criminal case citing large-scale misuse of Ukrainian property. Leaders with worldwide ambitions could sure work up a thirst. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.