Like Ukraine, Kazakhstan is home to a large ethnic Russian community. Kremlin exponents refer to the former Soviet republic as an “artificial” country. Astana is not ready to be a puppet of Russia like Lukashenko’s Belarus.
MOSCOW (AsiaNews) – Kazakhstan is trying to maintain a neutral position in the face of Russia’s war with Ukraine. And although he is not afraid of an imminent conflict with Moscow, the possible outcome of the “special military operation” is a cause for concern. Whether it ends in victory or defeat, there are different reasons why Russia might turn its gaze to the East, and the vast Kazakh steppes are the first territory it can dominate either to its displeasure or its will.
Central Asia’s largest country – which Pope Francis visited in September – analyzes the events of the year that ends with a mixture of concern and hope. The year 2022 began with street riots, which were overwhelmingly crushed, the arrival of Russian troops, who were sent home, and a succession of debates and initiatives for change, including constitutional reform and the election of President Cassim-Zomart. Tokayev leading to re-election.
One of the leading experts on Central Asia is Wilder Alejandro Sanchez, president of Second Floor Strategies in Washington. in conversation with AztecKazakh section Radio SvobodaSanchez took stock of the situation in Kazakhstan. Recalling “nationalist impulses” that seek to make the country more and more independent from the pre-Soviet “Russian world”, he recalled that “there is a long list of high-ranking officials of the Moscow regime who constantly threaten the future”. Let’s put it. Of Kazakhstan.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a longtime “comrade” of Putin, defines Kazakhstan as an “artificial country” and accuses it of “genocide of ethnic Russians”. This is the same phrase used by the Kremlin to justify the invasion of Ukraine. These accusations, by the way, are also partly directed at other countries in the region. In recent days Deputy Chairman of the Economic Policy Committee Mikhail Deljagin, DumaLashing out at Azerbaijan, calling it “America’s satellite, Turkey’s puppet and Russia’s security threat” – Baku has always been the subject of Moscow’s imperial frenzy.
Russia’s aggressive policy, explains Sanchez, is based on seeking the full support of neighboring countries. Otherwise, they become a “threat” that must be suppressed. Over the past 14 years, Moscow has invaded two neighboring countries – Georgia and Ukraine – and now “intends to further expand its sphere of influence, going back to the days of the Soviet Union.” There have been many statements by public figures of Russian politics and society in favor of the “annexation” of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Moldova and other countries.
As experts recall, “this year, Russia punished Kazakhstan more demonstratively by closing all the Caspian oil terminals in Novorossiysk”, which Astana uses for exports to Europe. The official reason was ecological, as stated by a Russian court. A few days later, the pipelines were reopened in Moscow, but in the meantime Kazakhstan had lost billions of dollars.
Tokayev has reiterated on several occasions that he does not want to “look like a Russian puppet in Belarus like Lukashenko”, but at the same time he cannot afford to cut the umbilical cord that connects him to Moscow, especially the economic one. Visually, but also militarily. It seems quite clear that if Moscow had carried out the Ukrainian “blitzkrieg”, having conquered Kyiv in a week, it would have somewhat easily repeated the operation in Astana.
One of the reforms recently announced by Kazakhstan – and partially introduced – is the “new military doctrine”. However, as Sánchez points out, “Article 32, which establishes that the country does not recognize any foreign government as an enemy, has not been touched.” The Kazakhs have not deployed troops along their borders with Russia, nor have they acquired a new army. technology, as it has done Ukraine since 2014. Therefore, Russia will not announce the “rejection” of Kazakhstan. But it is possible to think that it will seek Soviet-style “fraternal aid” – and in fact, it has already begun to do so from January 2022.