Russia’s Putin is making his first trip abroad since the start of the Ukraine war

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the opening ceremony of new healthcare facilities in several regions of Russia via video link in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 18, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN FROM A THIRD PARTY.

Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | Reuters

Vladimir Putin will visit two small former Soviet states in Central Asia this week, Russian state TV reported on Sunday, in what would be the Russian leader’s first known foreign trip since the invasion of Ukraine was ordered.

Russia’s February 24 invasion has killed thousands, displaced millions more and prompted severe Western financial sanctions, which Putin says are a reason to build stronger trade ties with other powers like China, India and Iran.

Pavel Zarubin, the Kremlin correspondent for state TV channel Rossiya 1, said Putin will visit Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and then meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo for talks in Moscow.

In Dushanbe, Putin will meet Tajik President Imomali Rahmon, a close Russian ally and the longest-serving ruler of a former Soviet state. In Ashgabat, he will attend a summit of Caspian nations, 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 borderless friendship treaty hours before the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

Russia says it sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 to weaken its neighbor’s military capabilities, prevent it from being used by the West to threaten Russia, root out nationalists and defend Russian-speakers in eastern regions. Ukraine is calling the invasion an imperial-style land grab. Russia’s Putin is making his first trip abroad since the start of the Ukraine war

Joshua Buckhalter

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