Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting Kazakhstan to stress the need for close ties, a month after he caused alarm in the former Soviet republic by seeming to question its future as an independent state.

During a meeting Tuesday with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Putin said the two countries were "connected historically and today by a thousand threads, which unite us and help us develop, supporting each other."

Speaking to young Russians in late August, Putin said Kazakhstan had only become a state under Nazarbayev and was better off in the "big Russian world."

Russia justified its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine by saying it has a responsibility to protect ethnic Russians outside Russia. Like Ukraine, Kazakhstan has a large ethnic Russian population.