By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a rare foreign trip since he launched the invasion of Ukraine in February last year, discussed bilateral cooperation and strategic partnership issues with his Kazakh counterpart, Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, in Astana on November 9.
The two leaders started their meeting by taking part over video-link in the 19th Kazakh-Russian forum on interregional cooperation, which was held in the northern Kazakh city of Qostanai that borders Russia.
Speaking to reporters after the talks, Toqaev and Putin said the two countries are strategic partners.
Putin said Russia has what he called “multifaceted” relations with Kazakhstan and called for more intensive development of Moscow-Astana military ties, stressing the two leaders discussed “consolidating military and military-technical cooperation.”
Putin’s visit came less than a week after leaders of the Organization of the Turkic States convened in Astana, where among other issues, military cooperation between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan was discussed.
Also last week, French President Emmanuel Macron held talks with Toqaev in Astana, during which he praised the Kazakh leader’s successful standing on geopolitical pressures.
Toqaev and Putin are scheduled to meet again on November 23 in Belarus, where they will attend a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a defense grouping of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
The United States and EU countries have warned Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics in Central Asia to stay away from assisting Moscow in evading sanctions imposed by the West over Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine by supplying Russia with Western electronics.
Toqaev and other Central Asian leaders have publicly vowed to comply with the restrictions.
Meanwhile, Russian officials have criticized the West for what they say are efforts to decrease Russia’s influence in the region