Vladimir Putin’s visit to Kyrgyzstan on Thursday marked his initial journey abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him in March.
The Russian President is wanted over allegations of deportation of Ukrainian children. However, Kyrgyzstan is not a member of the ICC, and it is not bound by the court’s ruling to arrest him.
Putin’s arrival in Kyrgyzstan was reported by Russian news agencies TASS, Interfax, and RIA Novosti early on Thursday.
During the visit, he is scheduled to meet with Kyrgyzstan President Sadyr Japarov and take part in a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Russian ally, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, and other regional leaders will also participate in the summit.
However, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has decided to skip the summit.
Notably, Putin has been relatively absent from international travel since the launch of Russia’s Ukraine offensive in February 2022.
This year, he has only travelled to Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine. His last foreign visits to Belarus and Kyrgyzstan were in December of last year. However, as per AFP, Putin is planning future visits to North Korea and China.
ICC arrest warrant
Moscow has denounced the warrant as “illegal” and has equated the Russian President’s potential arrest abroad to an act of war.
Despite that, Russia, in practice, has taken precautions to avoid Putin’s arrest. This includes sending Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to represent the nation at a BRICS summit in ICC member South Africa in August.
Commenting on his absence from Johannesburg, Putin earlier this month said: “Why should I create some problems for our friends during an event?”.
“If I come, a political show will start,” he added.
The ICC’s ruling and the Rome Statute — ratified by 123 nations requires member countries to adhere to ICC decisions, have closed the door to a large part of the globe to Putin, reports AFP.