Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic seen by Moscow as being in its orbit. This comes as the United States is also trying to boost ties with the resource-rich Central Asian country.
Putin traveled to Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, on Thursday. He stressed during his talks with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev that he would maintain relations between their countries.
Kazakhstan has been bolstering its relationships with Russia and China. But it has also been embracing ties with Western countries since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February last year. Tokayev met President Joe Biden in the US in September this year.
The United States is also looking to strengthen ties with Kazakhstan. It helped establish a peacekeepers' center in the Asian nation last month.
The US State Department on Tuesday publicized their governments' joint statement on the annual United States-Kazakhstan Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue.
The Kremlin denies that Putin's visit to Kazakhstan has anything to do with moves by other countries.
Analysts say Putin will likely work to retain Moscow's sphere of influence through means such as summits of a Russian-led military alliance of former Soviet states and informal meetings with their leaders.