Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Tuesday make his first trip to Tajikistan, a former Soviet country and Central Asian ally, his first-ever trip since the offensive against Ukraine launched in late February, the Kremlin said on Monday.
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“President Putin is planning a working visit to Tajikistan tomorrow,” said Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
In the Tajik capital of Dushanbe, Putin will meet with his counterpart Emomali Rakhmon, in particular to discuss “measures to strengthen cooperation and the alliance” between Russia and Tajikistan, according to Kremlin diplomatic adviser Yuri Ushakov.
Afghanistan, “one of the most serious problems facing Tajikistan” which shares more than 1,200 kilometers of border with that country and regularly faces clashes between Tajik forces and Afghan drug traffickers, will also be on the list for discussion, according to the same source.
The Kremlin master is then expected on Wednesday at a summit of Caspian Sea countries in Turkmenistan, another former authoritarian Soviet republic in Central Asia.
In Ashkhabad, the Turkmen capital, Mr Putin will also personally congratulate former leader of Turkmenistan and current Speaker of the Upper House of Turkmen Parliament Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who will celebrate his 65th birthday on Wednesday, Mr Ushakov said.
Bilateral meetings with current Turkmen President Serdar Berdymukhamedov, son of Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, as well as Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi are also planned, he added.
Vladimir Putin’s last trip abroad dates back to February 4-5, when he visited China to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping to mark the opening of the Winter Olympics.
A little over two weeks later, he launched his country to attack its Ukrainian neighbor after months of mounting tensions and despite diplomatic efforts to prevent Moscow from attacking.
Since then, Mr Putin has not made any trips abroad, not even to his closest ally Belarus. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has made several trips to Russia.
Tajikistan, the poorest country of the former USSR, is allied with Russia and economically heavily dependent on Russia.
Due to the COVID pandemic, Mr Putin, who was kept in a very strict health bubble, only made three trips abroad between February 2020 and February 2022.
He met American Joe Biden in Geneva in June 2021, Indian Narendra Modi in New Delhi in December 2021, then Xi in Beijing in February 2022.