Vladimir Putin will visit two small former Soviet states in Central Asia this week, Russian state television reported on Sunday, the first known trip by a Russian leader abroad since ordering an invasion of Ukraine.
Invasion of Russia on 24 February killed thousands of peopledisplaced millions more and led to severe financial sanctions from the West, which Putin says are the reason for building stronger trade ties with other powers such as China, India and Iran.
Pavel Zarubin, a correspondent for state television Rossiya 1 in the Kremlin, said Putin would visit Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and then meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo for talks in Moscow.
In Dushanbe, Putin will meet with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon, a close Russian ally and the longest-serving ruler of the former Soviet state. A summit of Caspian states, including the leaders of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan, will attend Ashgabat, Zarubin said.
Putin also plans to visit the Belarusian city of Grodno on June 30 and July 1 to participate in a forum with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Valentina Matviyenko, president of the upper house of the Russian parliament, told Belarusian television on Sunday, the RIA news agency reported.
Putin’s last known trip outside Russia was a visit to Beijing in early February, where he and Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled an unrestricted friendship agreement hours before they both attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
Russia says it sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 to degrade its neighbor’s military capabilities, prevent the West from using it to threaten Russia, eradicate nationalists, and defend Russian-speaking people in the eastern regions. Ukraine calls the invasion a seizure of land in the imperial style.
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