MOSCOW (AP) — Kazakhstan’s leader met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, a week after winning a new seven-year term by a landslide in a snap election.

Kazakhstan is a significant Russian ally, sharing a 7,600-kilometer (4,750-mile) border. But President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has kept his distance from Moscow amid the conflict in Ukraine, notably declining this summer to recognize the Kremlin’s declaration of separatist Ukraine regions as sovereign states.

Tokayev also has sought to reduce the influence of his Russia-friendly authoritarian predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled for three decades. Nazarbayev resigned in 2019, but had retained significant clout as head of the national security council until Tokayev removed him from the post this year.

In comments at the start of the leaders’ meeting, Tokayev said his first visit abroad since he won a new term with more than 80% of the vote has “deep political significance. Of course, there is definitely a certain symbolism in this visit.”

Putin said the countries have a “joint desire to develop our relations precisely in the capacity in which they have developed and will, of course, develop in the future.”