Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Kazakhstan for talks with his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to strengthen "neighborliness and cooperation," Agence France Presse reported on Nov. 9.
The visit comes only a week after the Nov. 1 trip of French President Emmanuel Macron to Astana in an effort to strengthen economic ties and expand uranium imports. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visited the Central Asian country a day later.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Putin's visit is not connected to the trips of the European leaders: "It is not associated with any other contacts (made by Kazakhstan). We will further develop our good neighborliness and cooperation with Kazakhstan."
"Our strategic partnership is truly forward-looking," Putin commented ahead of the meeting with Tokayev.
The Kazakh president said on Nov. 8 that his country is ready to increase the transport capacity of Russian oil and gas.
"We are interested in making full use of our transit potential and are ready to further increase the volume of Russian gas transportation," Tokayev said, as Moscow seeks to create a "gas union" including the two countries and Uzbekistan to coordinate gas trade.
Following the high-level meeting between the two leaders, Putin is scheduled to participate in the 19th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum via videoconference and sign a number of agreements.
Kazakhstan has historical ties with Russia and a considerable ethnic Russian minority. It is also a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), along with Russia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, and Tajikistan.
However, the country sought to distance itself from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has been balancing out Russia's influence by also developing relations with China and the West.