West News Wire: This week, Vladimir Putin will travel to two tiny former Soviet states in central Asia. This will be his first known trip outside of Russia since he gave the order to invade Ukraine.

Putin would travel to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan before meeting Indonesian President Joko Widodo for talks in Moscow, according to Pavel Zarubin, the Kremlin correspondent for the state television network Rossiya 1.

Putin will meet Imomali Rakhmon, the longest-serving president of a former Soviet state and a close Russian ally, in Dushanbe. According to Zarubin, he will attend a summit of Caspian countries in Ashgabat that will include the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran, and Turkmenistan.

Putin’s last known trip outside Russia was a visit to Beijing in early February, where he and Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a “no limits” friendship treaty hours before both attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games.

Russia’s February 24 invasion has killed thousands of people, displaced millions more, and led to severe financial sanctions from the West, which Putin says are a reason to build stronger trade ties with other powers such as China, India and Iran.

Russia says it sent troops into Ukraine to degrade its neighbour’s military capabilities, keep it from being used by the West to threaten Russia, root out nationalists, and defend Russian speakers in eastern regions.

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