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Putin’s allies abandon him as the Russian invasion of Ukraine drags on

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The friends we make along the way

As the leader of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin has gathered all sorts of international allies from the left and the right, joined by their opposition to the world order set by the United States and Western Europe.

Alone

However, since the Ukrainian invasion started, many of the friends of the man in the Kremlin seem to have left him alone. Here are some of Putin's most notable allies that have taken a step back at this most critical time.

Putin's man in the EU

Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, regarded as the European leader that is closest to Putin, joined the rest of the EU states to condemn Russia’s military action in Ukraine.

'We stand by Ukraine'

“Hungary’s position is clear: we stand by Ukraine, we stand by Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” said Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto days after the invasion, as quoted by Associated Press.

Hungary's eastern opening

According to a March 7 article published by the Financial Times, Orbán has promoted an “eastern opening” to Russia, while opposing NATO and EU’s policies in the region.

Czechia follows Hungary

Czech President Miloš Zeman is another pro-Putin European leader that has been forced to recant after the Ukrainian invasion, which Zeman argued was out of the question for Russia until the very end.

'A crime against peace'

“Russia has committed a crime against peace,” declared Zeman, as quoted by Associated Press. Reuters, meanwhile, reported on February 24 that the Russian consulates in the Czech Republic would be forced to close down.

Almaty protests

The former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, traditionally an ally and deeply dependent on Russia, has marked distance from Moscow and even allowed a pro-Ukrainian protest in Almaty, the country’s largest city.

Neither here nor there

The country, NBC News reports, also denied a request from its troops to join Russian forces in the military operation in Ukraine.

Pictured: Vladimir Putin with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2018.

Between the East and the West

Turkey, a member of NATO that shares deep economic ties with Russia, has done its best to keep a middle ground between the two.

An anti-Russian sanctuary

On one hand, Turkey has been described as a “sanctuary to anti-war Russians” by Al Jazeera. Here you can see a pro-Ukrainian protest on March 5 in Istanbul.

Serving as a mediator

On the other hand, the country has refused to press sanctions or close its airspace. Turkey’s unique position has functioned for its government to serve as a mediator of sorts between Moscow and Kyiv, as Al Jazeera highlights.

The enemy of my enemy

India finds itself in a similar situation to Turkey. New Delhi and Moscow have historically shared good relations, united in part to certain antagonism toward China, which has continued to blossom under Vladimir Putin and India’s PM Narendra Modi.

Abstained to vote

India abstained to vote in a March 2 UN resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine, as reported by Vox, and it remains Russia’s biggest client when it comes to arms.

Peace effort

Still, Modi contacted Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky in February, offering to “contribute in any way towards the peace effort”.

Shifting BRICS

Elsewhere, Putin’s former allies have tried to cut their losses and fall in line, condemning the Ukrainian invasion. Brazilian right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro stated in the early days of the conflict that his country would remain “neutral”, as cited by Deutsche Welle.

An awkward visit

Deutsche Welle points out that Bolsonaro had visited Putin just a few days before the invasion. Bolsonaro’s Vice President Hamilton Mourão was stronger in his condemnation of Russia’s actions and called for military support in Kyiv.

Don't cry for me, Argentina

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández, who in early February had offered his country to Putin as “the gateway of Russia to Latin America”, per France24, joined Brazil in voting to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations on March 2.

'Genius'

Meanwhile, in the United States, former US President Donald Trump praised Putin’s tactics in the early days of the invasion, calling him a “genius” on a radio show hosted by Buck Sexton and Clay Travis.

Trying to play it safe

Trump has tried to play it safe since then, arguing on ‘The Sean Hannity Show’ that “this doesn’t seem the same Putin I was dealing with”.

Pictured: Sean Hannity and Donald Trump during a rally in 2018.

It takes one to know one

Despite all the opportunities the Fox News TV host gave the former president to denounce Putin, Trump simply said that “he gets along well” with Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

Picking sides

Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, the host of the most-watched cable news program in the United States, asked in November 2019 “Why should I care if there’s a war between Ukraine and Russia? And why I shouldn’t root for Russia? Which I am”.

Nothing against Putin

And just days before the Ukrainian invasion, he questioned the rhetoric that portrays Putin as a villainous figure. “Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him?” Carlson asked on his show.

An alternative to mainstream media?

Since then, he and others at Fox News have tried to distance themselves from their previous editorial line. Still, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov praised Fox News as “an alternative” to mainstream media, according to The Guardian.

Former best friends

Nonetheless, the biggest conundrum remains for China and its President Xi Jinping. The Chinese leader has referred to Putin as “his best friend” in the past, and both have supported each other in the international landscape before.

A small favor

China apparently asked Russia to delay the Ukrainian invasion to not clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics, according to The New York Times.

Backing out

US President Joe Biden has tried to warn China it could face sanctions if it aids Russia in its military operation in Ukraine. Beijing so far remains neutral as much as possible.

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