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International relations

Putin to seek support at Eurasian summit amid sanctions squeeze

Kazakhstan, others step gingerly as Ukraine poses existential questions for bloc

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on May 20: His invasion of Ukraine has complicated life for Russia's Central Asian partners.   © Sputnik via Reuters

ALMATY -- A summit of a Russia-led free trade bloc that was already set to be tense because of the Ukraine war has been upended as most of the presidents, led by Vladimir Putin, declined to attend in person.

This Friday's scheduled meeting of the heads of state of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a five-member trade group, is being hosted by Kyrgyzstan. But it will be a mostly virtual affair, as Russia's leader along with Belarus' Alexander Lukashenko and Armenia's Nikol Pashinyan opted not to go to Bishkek.

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