Russia’s Putin is making his first foreign trip since launching the Ukraine war

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the BRICS+ meeting during the BRICS summit via video link in Moscow region, Russia on June 24, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzl/Kremlin via Reuters

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LONDON (Reuters) – Russian state television reported on Sunday that Vladimir Putin will visit two small former Soviet states in Central Asia this week, in what would be the Russian leader’s first known trip abroad since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian invasion on February 24 killed thousands, displaced millions and led to heavy financial sanctions from the West, which Putin says is reason to build stronger trade ties with other powers such as China, India and Iran.

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

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In Dushanbe, Putin will meet Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, a close ally of Russia and the longest-serving ruler of a former Soviet state. Zarubin said that he will attend in Ashgabat the summit of the Caspian countries, including the leaders of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan.

Valentina Matvienko, head of the Russian upper house of parliament, was quoted by RIA as telling Belarusian TV on Sunday that 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.

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Putin’s last known trip outside Russia was a visit to Beijing in early February, where he and Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a “borderless” friendship treaty hours before they attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

Russia says it sent troops into Ukraine on February 24 to undermine its neighbor’s military capabilities, prevent the West from using them to threaten Russia, root out nationalists and defend Russian speakers in eastern regions. Ukraine describes the invasion as an imperial-style land grab.

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(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and David Leungren). Editing by Peter Graf and Mark Porter

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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