Who are Russia’s allies a year after Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine?

Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russia, was in China on Tuesday, for a high-profile bilateral meeting that has raised eyebrows in the West.

His visit has fuelled fears that Beijing is still considering providing military assistance to Moscow, despite China refuting the allegations as a “smear campaign”.

Nonetheless, the meeting underscores the reality that over a year after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Moscow still has international partners and allies.

Five countries voted against a UN resolution on 2 March 2022 calling on Russia to “immediately cease the use of force against Ukraine” and to “fully and unconditionally withdraw all its armed forces”. They are Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea.

Since then, Russia has been working in front of and behind the scenes to seek new strategic partners at the international level or to deepen existing relations.

So who is still standing by Russia and why?

Russia’s neighbour is also its most important military ally and shares deep cultural and economic ties. In the early stages of the war, Belarus was a key staging ground for Russia’s assault on the north of Ukraine and Kyiv, with Moscow conducting military drills there and using its airspace.

Since the disputed Belarusian elections in 2020, the fate of its leader Alexander Lukashenko seems to be tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia played a decisive role in ensuring that massive anti-government protests were suppresse