Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to embark on his first foreign visit since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. It also comes a few days after he addressed rumors of his allegedly failing health. 

Putin will visit two Central Asian countries this week. Part of the former Soviet Union, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan have made preparations to welcome the Russian president.

Russian state television Rossiya 1 claimed that Putin would visit Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and then meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo for talks in Moscow.

Why Is Putin Visiting Central Asian Nations?

In Dushanbe, Putin will meet Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon, a close Russian ally and the longest-serving ruler of a former Soviet state. In Ashgabat, he will attend a summit of Caspian nations including the leaders of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran, and Turkmenistan, according to Reuters.

The details about Putin's trips were revealed by Pavel Zarubin, who is the Kremlin correspondent of the Rossiya 1.

Putin Will Also Visit Belarus

In the first week of July, Putin is also scheduled to Grodno, a city in Belarus, and attend a forum with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

During his visit to Central Asian nations, Putin will meet with the leaders of the five countries at the time of the Ukraine war. The meeting could be significant for Russia as multiple Western sanctions are imposed on it, which are hampering the country's economy and businesses. Apart from strengthening the ties between the countries, Putin could also ink any key financial or trade deal with the countries, which could harm the West.

At a time when Ukraine is receiving massive support from the US, Europe, and the rest part of the world, Russia is bearing the sanctions imposed by the West and faces financial challenges with fewer ally countries. Putin's visit suggests that Russia is attempting to overcome challenges that emerged from the Ukraine war by cementing its relations in the West and Central Asia.

Health Rumors 

Putin used a popular Mark Twain misquote to dismiss his health rumors. “Like Mark Twain once said: ‘The rumors about my death were greatly exaggerated,'" he said at the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg.

In May Ukraine's head of military intelligence Ukrainian Major Gen. Kyrylo Budanov said Putin is "very sick" due to cancer, and his illness "will eventually lead to the change of leadership of the Russian Federation. This process has already been launched and they are moving into that way." 

Russian oligarch Sir Richard Dearlove reportedly detailed his conversation with Putin, where the latter told him that he was diagnosed with blood cancer. After hearing the truth from the leader, Dearlove predicted that Putin could check himself into a facility to seek proper treatment.

Dr. Paul Connell also claimed to know why Putin’s face looks swollen. He said that this could be a result of his kidney or liver disease. It is also possible for Putin to have been undergoing chemotherapy.

According to The New York Post, a new video shows the Russian leader struggling to get up from his seat during an awards ceremony in Kremlin. The video also shows Putin looking unstable and swaying back and forth while trying to get up.

The video was taken even after Putin’s doctors advised him not to attend lengthy engagements where he would be required to stand for long hours.

Members of Russia's security services have a special job to do whenever President Vladimir Putin goes on a foreign trip. His bodyguards are required to collect his poop in special packets to let people and other countries not know about Putin's health secrets, according to a report.

Russia's Federal Protection Service Members' job includes placing all poop packets in a briefcase and ensuring that they are returned to Russia.