Vladimir Putin will visit two small former Soviet states in Central Asia this week, Russian state television reported Sunday, in what would be the Russian leader’s first known trip abroad since the order to invade Ukraine.
The Russian invasion of February 24 killed thousands, displaced millions more and led to severe financial sanctions from the West, which Putin says are grounds for building stronger trade ties with other powers such as China, India and Iran.
Pavel Zarubin, the Kremlin correspondent for state television channel Rossiya 1, said Vladimir Putin would visit Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and then meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo for talks in Moscow.
In Dushanbe, Putin meets Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon, a close Russian ally and the longest-serving ruler of a former Soviet state. In Ashgabat, he will attend a summit of Caspian countries, including the leaders of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan, Zarubin said.
Putin’s last known trip outside of Russia was a visit to Beijing in early February, where he and Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a “no borders” friendship treaty hours before both attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
Russia says it sent troops to Ukraine on Feb. 24 to reduce its neighbor’s military capabilities, prevent it from being used by the West to threaten Russia, exterminate nationalists and defend Russian-speakers in eastern regions. Ukraine calls the invasion an imperial-style land grab.
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