MOSCOW, December 30. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t sent Christmas and New Year holiday greetings to his Western counterparts this year, with the exception of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, according to the Kremlin website.
In addition, not a single head of international organizations or leading sports federations is on the list, and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has disappeared from the list of former heads of state and government whom Putin traditionally wishes a happy holiday.
TASS put together the main holiday greetings from the president to his foreign counterparts.
Former Soviet republics
In well-wishes to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin said that Moscow and Minsk "thanks to close allied engagement <...> endured trials and tribulations with honor," effectively countered unprecedented political and sanctions pressure and built a reliable defense of the western borders of the Union State. He also praised the camaraderie with his Belarusian counterpart.
Russia and Azerbaijan have reached a new level of engagement this year: a level of allies, Putin said in greetings to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. In holiday messages to the leadership of Armenia, he said the countries "were able to reinforce the strategic nature of bilateral cooperation."
Just as he did a year ago, Putin highly praised the progress of relations with Central Asian countries, their development and strengthening are mentioned in greetings to all leaders of the region.
The Russian leader also sent well-wishes to the heads of Abkhazia and South Ossetia Aslan Bzhania and Alan Gagloyev. Moldovan President Maia Sandu, however, didn’t get her greetings, unlike last year. Besides, the Kremlin traditionally doesn’t wish happy holidays to the leaders of Georgia or Ukraine.
Europe and America
Putin hasn’t sent holiday well-wishes to the heads of state and government of the West this year, although last year he sent holiday messages, for example, to the leaders of the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, France and some other countries.
The only country that’s a member of the EU and NATO, whose leader received greetings from the Russian president, was Hungary. In greetings to Orban, Putin said bilateral relations developed positively, "despite a difficult international situation," and reaffirmed commitment to further joint work.
The Russian president also sent New Year and Christmas greetings to his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, noting a deepening of political dialogue and coordination of efforts by the countries, which is "especially needed in the current difficult geopolitical situation."
Like last year, Putin sent greetings to Brazil’s outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro, his Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan counterparts Nicolas Maduro, Miguel Diaz-Canel and Daniel Ortega as well as Raul Castro. Another Latin American leader that has been sent greetings from the Russian president is Bolivian president Luis Arce. But Alberto Fernandez, the president of Argentina, whom Putin recently congratulated on the victory of the Argentine team at the football World Cup, isn’t mentioned by the Kremlin among the leaders that got holiday wishes from Putin.
Asia and Africa
The Russian leader sent greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom he had communicated by video link on Friday. He stated that bilateral relations had grown stronger and are "resilient to external challenges," and expressed confidence that cooperation between Moscow and Beijing could be taken to a higher level.
In messages to the president and the prime minister of India, Droupadi Murmu and Narendra Modi, Putin noted the continued development of a "special privileged strategic partnership" between the countries and the implementation of major joint projects, including in the military-technical sphere. The chairmanship of New Delhi in the Group of 20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will open up new opportunities for increasing cooperation, the president said.
The Russian president also sent greetings to the leadership of Vietnam, saying bilateral relations were developing positively, despite "unfavorable changes in international affairs." But unlike previous years, he didn’t wish happy holidays to the leaders of Mongolia, South Korea or Japan.
Out of the leaders of Middle Eastern countries, Putin sent greetings to only the presidents of Syria and Turkey. He reaffirmed to Bashar Assad an unwavering support for the sovereignty and unity of Syria and readiness to continue to help with the stabilization and rebuilding of the country. In well-wishes to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the Russian leader highlighted expanded cooperation in many areas, the idea of a gas hub and the construction of the Akkuyu NPP.
The Israeli leadership, to whom Putin traditionally sends New Year greetings, hasn’t been mentioned by the Kremlin, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a telegram of congratulations from the Russian president on Thursday.
In addition, the leaders of Africa were not wished a happy holiday this year. In both of the last two years, the Russian president sent greetings to his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa.
According to the Kremlin, Putin didn’t send any greetings to the UN secretary general, the managing director of the IMF and the president of the World Bank this year, as well as heads of leading sports federations. Pope Francis was also not included in the list of recipients of presidential greetings.
Changes have also been made to the list of former heads of state and government that received holiday wishes from Putin. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has disappeared from the list while her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder remained on it. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is now off the list, as is former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, while Silvio Berlusconi is still on it.