“Very concerned”: Kazakhstan is concerned about the Russian invasion

“Very worried”
Kazakhstan fears Russian invasion

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, other former Soviet powers fear that Putin may also act there. In Kazakhstan, the Russian minority makes up about 20 percent of the population. But according to a Central Asian expert estimate, the country is optimistic about Russia.

According to Central Asian expert Beate Eschment, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being watched with eagle eyes not only in the Baltic states but also in other former Soviet republics. Because there are also fears about Russian expansion options in Kazakhstan. “At least 18 percent are Russian minorities and have a long common border,” said Joyce, an expert with Reuters news agency’s Eastern European firm.

Russian nationalists have previously called for the annexation of related settlements in the north. “Official reports indicate that the people are concerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be able to take action there as well,” the statement said. This Monday, federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also telephoned his Kazakh colleague Qasim-Skomart Tokaye.

“It is very surprising how Kazakhstan has behaved so far in the conflict in Ukraine,” he said. Unlike Moscow, the Kazakh leadership made it very confident that it would not recognize the so-called People’s Republics in areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Instead, he referred to international law and UN policy. From the beginning of the Russian invasion, the capital Noor-Sultan insisted on its own neutrality. “It simply came to our notice then. The government of the country of nearly 19 million people emphasizes the policy of regional unity of the states and in early March ordered the modernization of the armed forces.

Kazakhstan’s withdrawal from the Russian offensive against Ukraine at the UN General Assembly was by no means a sham, but a very confident gesture. After all, Togolese gained power in early 2022 only with the help of the Russian-led CSTO military alliance. At the time, Putin threatened to announce in the future that the CSTO would not allow the coup d’tat.

Good contacts in all directions

In addition to Russia and Kazakhstan, the alliance includes Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. However, the five Central Asian countries did not pull in the same direction towards Moscow. The estimate points out that Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have withdrawn from the UN referendum. But as a precautionary measure Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were not in the room when the vote took place and did not vote at all. Yet, the fact that even the most powerful Central Asian countries did not vote with Russia is a red flag for Moscow. The economic heavyweight of the region, the resource-rich Kazakhstan, wants to emotionally maintain its so-called multi-vector policy, i.e. maintain good relations in all directions, the estimate says.

Perhaps if Putin tries to “shut down” too much, one could rely on another neighbor, China. “Because the superpower is the most unpopular partner among the people of Central Asia, but its economic importance is increasing,” says the Joyce expert. “It is not in China’s interest for Russia to want to expand its sphere of influence again: Central Asia is China’s western route.” However, Central Asians may soon engage in conflict in a much different way than previously thought. Eschment cites reports that Russia is recruiting mercenaries to fight in Ukraine on the promise of money and Russian citizenship, among a large number of migrant workers from Central Asian states.

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