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Putin and Rajapaksa exchange letters to celebrate ‘abiding friendship’

Sri Lanka’s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa hailed his government’s relationship with Russia in a letter sent to Vladmir Putin, as both leaders marked the 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

In a letter to Russian president Putin sent just three days ago, the war crimes-accused Rajapaksa sent his “warm greetings and sincere felicitations”.

“The abiding friendship and vibrant relations between Sri Lanka and Russia are time-tested, and mutually rewarding,” Rajapaksa stated.

“Underpinned by shared values and mutual respect, relations between our two countries have continued to flourish over the years,” he continued, adding “I wish to express my fervent desire to work closely with you to further consolidate and expand the existing solid partnership between our two countries in the years ahead”.

The Russian Embassy in Sri Lanka meanwhile posted a tweet with a message from Putin to Rajapaksa, which noted that the two countries “have accumulated considerable experience of fruitful cooperation in various spheres”. It also posted a selection of photographs from throughout the years, including from when Rajapaksa met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 2020 and from when former Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena led a delegation that included Mangala Samaraweera to meet Putin in Moscow in 2017.

Last year, senior Russian security officials visited Sri Lanka, whilst another accused Sri Lankan war criminal, army chief Shavendra Silva, was greeted by a military guard of honour on a visit to Moscow.

In 2020, Lavrov visited the island and pledged to supply Sri Lanka with “all the weapons they need”.

The exchange of letters from the two leaders comes as Putin faces the threat of increasing sanctions from Western countries over Russia's actions in Ukraine, and as Sri Lanka faces further rebukes at the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council session over its lack of accountability for mass atrocities.

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