President Vladimir Putin arrived in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday on a rare trip abroad for the Russian leader who was indicted earlier this year by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Ukraine.
Putin was to meet with Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov on Thursday. He will take part on Friday in the Commonwealth of Independent States summit, which Kyrgyzstan is hosting. The leaders of Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will also attend the summit. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will skip it, as Yerevan’s relationship with Moscow has frayed amid mutual accusations.
It is the first time this year that the Russian president has traveled outside Russia and Russian-held territories of Ukraine. Earlier this year, Putin visited the partially occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson, as well as the annexed Crimean Peninsula.
In March, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin over the deportation of children from Ukraine. Countries that have signed and ratified the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, are now bound to arrest the Russian leader if he sets foot on their soil.
The move caused Putin to skip an economic summit in South Africa in August and further strained Moscow’s ties with Armenia after it moved to ratify the Rome Statute earlier this month, even as Armenian officials sought to assure the Kremlin that the Russian leader would not be arrested if he entered the country.
The Kremlin has said that Russia doesn’t recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC and considers the warrant null and void.
Kyrgyzstan is not a signatory of the Rome Statute. In Central Asia, only Tajikistan is. Putin traveled to both countries last year after the invasion of Ukraine and amid increasing international isolation. He also visited other Central Asian nations in 2022, as well as Armenia, Belarus, China, India and Iran.
Later this month, Putin is expected to travel to China again. Last month, he also accepted an invitation to visit North Korea, although it remains unclear when that might happen.