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  • Writer's pictureAmar Adiya

Will Putin Visit Mongolia?

Whispers of a potential fifth visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Mongolia for the 85th anniversary of the Khalkhyn Gol victory in September 2024, are swirling through the media. While such an event would carry symbolic weight for both nations, its likelihood remains shrouded in uncertainty, reflecting the complex geopolitical currents buffeting both countries.

Putin's last visit to Mongolia, commemorating the 80th anniversary in 2019, occurred in a vastly different world. At present, with Russia heavily engaged in Ukraine and facing international criticism, a visit would lead to significant consequences for both sides.

For Mongolia, hosting Putin would be a public relations challenge, potentially damaging relations with Western partners, particularly the US, a key player in its “third neighbor” policy. This policy aims to reduce Ulaanbaatar’s reliance on its two powerful neighbors, a strategy increasingly vital as great power competition intensifies.

However, to dismiss the possibility of a Putin visit outright would be premature. Putin, facing increasing international isolation, might see a visit to Mongolia as an opportunity to demonstrate that he still has friends on the world stage. For a leader who thrives on projecting an image of strength and defiance, the symbolism of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Mongolia on the anniversary of a shared victory against a common enemy could hold undeniable appeal.

Putin visits Mongolia

This dynamic works both ways. For ambitious Mongolian leaders, eager to secure their own legacy and burnish their nationalist credentials, a high-profile meeting with Putin holds undeniable allure. A photo-op with the Russian leader, particularly on such a symbolically charged occasion, could translate into enhanced domestic legitimacy and a potent image of being a leader who commands respect on the world stage.

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