Russian President Vladimir Putin has ventured abroad for the first time since an arrest warrant was issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March. He arrived in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday morning, according to Russian state news agencies.
The visit to Kyrgyzstan is significant as the country is not a member of the ICC. This means that Putin is not at risk of arrest, despite the standing warrant that mandates ICC member countries to detain him if he sets foot in their territories.
While in Kyrgyzstan, Putin is scheduled to meet with the country's president, Sadyr Japarov. The two leaders are expected to discuss various matters, although the specifics have not been disclosed.
A summit of allies
In addition to his bilateral meeting with Japarov, Putin will also participate in a summit for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). This organization includes several of Putin's close allies, such as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. The CIS consists of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Since ordering the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Putin has rarely left Russia. His travels this year have been confined to parts of Ukraine that Russia has illegally occupied. His last foreign trips were to Belarus and Kyrgyzstan in December of last year.
Russia is currently working on arranging state visits to North Korea and China, both of which are not ICC members. This suggests that Putin is cautiously resuming his international travels, avoiding countries where he could be arrested.
Russia has described the prospect of Putin's possible arrest abroad as an "illegal declaration of war." However, the country has shown caution in its actions. For instance, during a BRICS summit in South Africa, an ICC member country, Russia was represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov instead of Putin.
The visit to Kyrgyzstan marks a cautious yet significant step for Putin, as he navigates the complexities of international law and diplomacy.