The president praised the country's relationship with Kazakhstan as exemplary during a visit to Astana
The relationship between Russia and Kazakhstan is a fine example of a close alliance and greatly benefits the peoples of the two nations, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during talks with his Kazakhstani counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Astana on Thursday.
"We are not just allies, but the closest allies. This relationship has flourished over many years," the Russian leader said, hailing the personal contribution of Tokayev in fostering these ties.
Putin is visiting the capital of Kazakhstan almost exactly ten years after the two nations signed a key agreement on neighborly relations.
Tokayev spoke of the friendship, shared history and spiritual unity between the two countries, describing these links as their "greatest treasure."
The two leaders expressed satisfaction at how economic, diplomatic and humanitarian links between them were developing. Tokayev noted the growth of consular networks that Russia and Kazakhstan maintain at each other's soil, while Putin thanked his host for promoting Russian culture and language.
Following the talks, the presidents signed a roadmap for Russian-Kazakh activities for the next three years, as well as a memorandum on joint energy projects.
Putin arrived in Astana a week after a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, who chose Kazakhstan as the first stop on his tour of Central Asia.
Moscow considers Western interest in the region as part of an overt anti-Russia agenda, which its partners "clearly understand," according to Aleksandr Sternik, a senior official in the Russian Foreign Ministry. He heads the department in charge of ties with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
"They don't even hide the threat of secondary sanctions, but rather openly wag it in the face of sovereign nations that have totally legitimate commercial, defense and military relationships with our country," he said in an interview on Wednesday.
Moscow, he added, respects the right of others to conduct diplomatic relations however they want, but it is not oblivious to Western "self-serving" intentions, the diplomat noted.