How Putin was repeatedly snubbed by countries he thought were his allies since invading Ukraine

American Age Official
Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on the phone in his office in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in December 2018.Aleksey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

  • Some of Russia’s longtime allies have snubbed the country and Putin since the Ukraine invasion.

  • Once-subservient allies are growing bolder, seeing Russia struggle to subdue a small neighbor.

  • Large powers like China and India are charting an ambivalent path.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not been a popular figure around the world since he invaded Ukraine in February.

While he has been outright rejected by Western leaders since it started in February, more interesting is how Russia’s longtime allies have responded.

Though more subtly, many have shown they are not happy with the war. It has left Russia with only a handful of still-close allies that include the world’s pariah states.

Here are the ways Putin has been snubbed since the war began:

Tajikistan’s president appeared to berate Putin and demanded respect for his country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in December 2021.Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in December 2021.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in December 2021.Sputnik/Evgeny Biyatov/Kremlin via REUTERS

The president of Tajikistan, a close ally of Russia, seemed to berate Putin during a meeting of central Asian leaders in October.

Emomali Rahmon said he wanted more respect from Putin despite his country’s size.

His remarks followed a theme seen with other post-Soviet nations which felt confident enough to assert themselves in the face of Russia’s failures to quickly subdue Ukraine.

“Yes, we are small nations, we are not 100-200 million, but we have history, culture, we love, we want to be respected,” Rahmon said, according to Mail Online.

He also complained that smaller nations were “never being treated like strategic partners!”

“No offense,” he said, “but we want to be respected!”

Rahmon also told Putin not to treat central Asian countries as if they were still part of the former Soviet Union, the New Voice of Ukraine reported.

However, this stopped short of actually condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

Tajikistan, which is economically dependent on Russia, has largely stayed quiet about the war but has taken in Russians fleeing the call to fight in Ukraine.

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Kazakhstan distanced itself from Russia, sent help to Ukraine, and sought to increase ties with the West.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, right, and Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pose for a photo prior to their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022.Russia's President Vladimir Putin, right, and Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pose for a photo prior to their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022.

Putin, right, and Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on November 28, 2022.Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Kazakhstan isn’t looking to completely enrage its huge neighbor, traditional ally, and big economic partner, but it has still repeatedly taken a stance against the war.

The country’s official position is to call for a ceasefire and a diplomatic end to the fighting, its UK ambassador told Insider’s Alia Shoaib.

And zero officials in the country have expressed support for Putin’s war, Foreign Policy noted.

Kazakhstan denied Russia’s request to send troops to fight at the start of the war, and it  has sent planeloads of humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

It has not recognized the Russia-backed, self-proclaimed republicans in Ukraine, with the country’s president even refusing to do so in front of Putin.

It also says it took in around 200,000 Russians who were fleeing Putin’s draft.

The EU and Kazakhstan pledged to forge “ever closer” relations at a meeting in Luxembourg in June.

Armenia’s prime minister repeatedly snubbed Putin at a meeting of Putin’s friends.

Armenia's prime minister and Russia's president among other Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) leaders in Yerevan, Armenia, on November 23, 2022.Armenia's prime minister and Russia's president among other Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) leaders in Yerevan, Armenia, on November 23, 2022.

Armenia’s prime minister and Russia’s president among other Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) leaders in Yerevan, Armenia, on November 23, 2022.KAREN MINASYAN / AFP via Getty Images; Insider

Vladimir Putin met with other leaders at the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-dominated alliance of post-Soviet nations, in November.

It did not go as he planned.

Although the nations are supposed to be close allies, with Russia unquestionably the dominant power, Armenia’s prime minister used the meeting to repeatedly slight Putin.

Nikol Pashinyan first criticized the effectiveness of the alliance in his speech at the start of the summit.

He later refused to sign a draft declaration from the summit, and he was seen physically distancing himself from Putin in a photo of all the alliance’s leaders together.

Pashinyan’s complaints were not about Ukraine, and instead center on the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in which he accused Putin of doing too little to help.

But the brazenness with which he called out Putin showed that smaller countries do not feel cowed by Russia, which is struggling to maintain its reputation as a military superpower.

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Uzbekistan says it supports Ukraine’s right to its territory.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and European Council President Charles Michel pose for a photo prior to their talks in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on October 28, 2022.Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and European Council President Charles Michel pose for a photo prior to their talks in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on October 28, 2022.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and European Council President Charles Michel pose for a photo prior to their talks in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on October 28, 2022.Uzbekistan Presidential Press Service via AP

Uzbekistan, a former Soviet country with close ties to Russia, has rejected Russia’s claims over Ukrainian land.

Its foreign minister said in March that the country “recognizes Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity” and did not recognize the regions that Russia-backed separatists declared as Republics and Russia then recognized.

He said Uzbekistan wants peace, and that the country sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Uzbekistan told its citizens that they could not join either side of the war.

It also said it would not deport Russians fleeing the draft who arrived in the country.

Given the important economic role that Russia plays in Uzbekistan, however, the war is overall mentioned little in the country, Politico noted in October.

Citizens who work in Russia and send money home play a large role in Uzbekistan’s economy, it noted.

Uzbekistan also abstained from UN votes condemning Russia’s invasion, in which Russia has found very few countries willing to openly support it.

India has put its name to a criticism of Russia’s war, and is calling for peace while maintaining a delicate balancing act.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets his cabinet colleagues as he arrives on the opening day of the winter session of the Parliament, in New Delhi, India, on December 7, 2022.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets his cabinet colleagues as he arrives on the opening day of the winter session of the Parliament, in New Delhi, India, on December 7, 2022.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives on the opening day of the winter session of the Parliament, in New Delhi, India, on December 7, 2022.AP Photo/Manish Swarup

India joined a G20 summit statement that condemned the war in Ukraine, saying it was “causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy.”

The statement noted that “most members” of the group condemned the war, leaving wriggle room for countries like India who are unwilling to fully condemn Russia.

(Russia itself is also a G20 member, making the prospect of the whole body condemning the war impossible.)

This kind of ambiguity shows the fine balancing act facing nations like India.

It has sent Ukraine humanitarian aid, and its prime minister Narendra Modi told Putin at a September summit that “I know that today’s era is not the era for war.”

But India is still buying large amounts of Russian oil, declining to join efforts to boycott Russian energy, and enjoying lower prices as a result.

The country is typically both an ally to Russia and the West, and it appears to now be trying to exist in that middle ground and position itself a potential peacemaking force.

India helped in efforts to get Russia-blocked grain out of Ukraine, and told Ukraine in October that it was ready to help with peace efforts.

China forced Putin to acknowledge its concerns about the war, and frowned on Putin’s nuclear threats. But it is quietly strengthening economic ties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing, on February 4, 2022.Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing, on February 4, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing on February 4, 2022.Photo by ALEXEI DRUZHININ/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Putin conceded in September that China had concerns about the Ukraine war, telling Chinese President Xi Jinping “We understand your questions and concerns in this regard.”

He did not go into any detail, leaving observers to wonder what exactly China had said about the war.

Xi also criticized Russia’s nuclear rhetoric in November and said that the humanitarian situation should be improved.

But China hasn’t gone away as a key economic backer of Russia either, and hasn’t condemned the invasion in general.

Like India, China has kept buying cut-price Russian oil.

Going further, Xi ordered Chinese officials to create closer economic ties with Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported, countering Western efforts to isolate the Russia financially.

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