Soldiers patrol the presidential palace in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, January 6, 2022. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the Kazakh city of Almaty and the Mangystau region, in southwestern Kazakhstan. The growing unrest prompted the Kazakh government to seek help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which decided to deploy peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan. (Photo: Xinhua)
After days of turmoil in Kazakhstan, the largest country in the Central Asian region, the situation began to stabilize with the arrival of the collective peacekeeping forces of the CSTO. What are the reasons for the violent protests? What lessons should regional countries learn? How will this change geopolitics in Central Asia? The Global Times interviewed experts from Russia and Kyrgyzstan to find out their views on these issues.
Dmitry Orlov, Managing Director of the East-West Strategy Analytical Center in Kyrgyzstan
The root cause of the current unrest is the dissatisfaction with the social inequalities that have developed in Kazakhstan in recent years. If you judge by the situation today, you can see that there are at least three influence groups with different goals and objectives operating in Kazakhstan. Initially, oil refinery workers in West Kazakhstan demonstrated peacefully to protest the increase in gas prices from 60 Kazakh tenge ($ 0.14) to 120 Kazakh tenge. This is serious money for Kazakhstan under conditions of crisis.
The protest subsequently spread to other cities in Kazakhstan. In several cities, the initiative was taken by unknown terrorists, some of whom are believed to be foreigners. In Almaty, these people carried out numerous pogroms, killing police officers, members of the National Guard and innocent civilians.
All of this, of course, threatened the interests not only of Central Asia, but also of Russia and China. However, the timely introduction of CSTO peacekeepers into Kazakhstan has reduced these threats to a minimum. It is expected that the whole situation will be resolved within a week or two.
In general, all states of the former Soviet Union – not just those in Central Asia – urgently need to strengthen their own borders and improve intelligence sharing. And, above all, the socio-economic problems urgently need to be resolved. Otherwise, there will be even more grounds for dissatisfaction with the policy of the authorities.
Now everything depends on the effectiveness and controllability of the peacekeeping forces of the CSTO and the special services of Kazakhstan. If they succeed in eliminating the terrorists, and if they do not pursue those who have genuinely rallied for socio-economic reasons, nothing terrible will happen to the region.
Of course, there will be difficulties. For once the threats of further terrorist attacks have been eliminated, the problems of restoring infrastructure and the economy in the affected regions of Kazakhstan will have to be resolved. It won’t be a quick process. But I want to believe that Kazakhstan’s allies will provide all the necessary assistance to the country.
Sergey Biryukov, professor at the Siberian Institute of Management in Novosibirsk in Russia
As a result of an acute intra-elite struggle, supplemented by foreign interference (I emphasize in this regard the detention by the Kazakh authorities of the former head of the National Security Committee Karim Massimov for treason), coupled with the activation radical movements forces (as well as ordinary participants in protests) inside the country, the state of Kazakhstan found itself in a very serious crisis.
And the participation of Russia, along with Kazakhstan’s other CSTO allies, in defeating an externally backed armed insurgency threatening the security of ordinary citizens of Kazakhstan is not an assault on the country’s sovereignty by Moscow. , but a help needed to preserve it.
Nursultan’s old multi-vector strategy gave the United States an additional opportunity to exert influence over Kazakhstan. In addition to political ambitions, the United States has a large-scale presence in the economy of Kazakhstan, mainly in the oil industry.
However, the acute crisis of the multi-vector format and the inevitable increase in influence of Russia and China in this case is causing some frustration in Washington.
It is becoming evident that the United States, which today has focused on other important foreign policy projects for itself, still fails to temporarily and manageably limit its presence in Kazakhstan with minimal cost to itself. their reputation and influence. It seems that they simply did not calculate the possibility of such a dynamic development of events.
The use of Kazakhstan’s strategic position within the framework of the integration process within the âGreater Eurasiaâ could modify the balance of power on a global scale.
Such a vast and deep crisis in Kazakhstan will inevitably make Uzbekistan, which has preserved internal stability, the informal leader of the Central Asian region. In addition, the confidence of Central Asian countries in each other will weaken due to the reluctance to become an object of the “export of the color revolution” or simply the instability of the nearest neighbors. .
The internal integration processes will weaken even more in the current situation. On the other hand, if the crisis in Kazakhstan is successfully resolved, the influence and authority of Russia and China as countries contributing to the preservation of intraregional stability will increase. At the same time, much will depend on the ability of the political elites in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries to come up with a comprehensive solution to the accumulated internal problems that give rise to such crises.