Amid Western sanctions, Putin courts Southeast Asia at belt and road forum

Several Southeast Asian leaders were feted by Russian President Vladimir Putin at last week’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing as part of his pivot to Asia, elevating the importance of the region’s political centrality and economic vitality to Russia’s Indo-Pacific strategy.
This was Putin’s second official foreign trip since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him. To the surprise of many observers, his main scheduled meetings were dedicated to Southeast Asian leaders, including new Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, Vietnam’s recently appointed President Vo Van Thuong and Laos President Thongloun Sisoulith. Putin also had an unscheduled informal discussion with Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo.
  • Putin discussed trade and cooperation with Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian leaders, and held informal talks with Indonesia’s Widodo
  • Despite unprecedented sanctions to isolate Russia, there are those in the Global South still keen to deepen relations with Moscow


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