With Ukraine Tension High, Russia Blames US Military Actions for Kazakhstan Crisis

Russia’s top envoy to the United States has accused Washington’s foreign policy of helping to stir up the crisis in Kazakhstan, where he said Moscow had taken action as part of an allied military intervention at a time of escalating tensions with Ukraine. sought to bring stability.

Russian Ambassador to America Anatoly Antonov told newsweek that “there is serious concern over the further spread of radical religious ideology in Central Asia.” He also addressed the core issue stemming from two decades of destabilizing US military intervention in West and Central Asia.

“This comes from instability in the Middle East and Afghanistan, in turn, from Western military intervention under the pretext of protecting human rights and democracy,” Antonov said.

The US declared “war on terror” after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and regime change efforts in Libya and Syria that began in 2011, leading to further conflict across the region, a “forever war”. “Given the word. Used by both President Joe Biden and Donald Trump to denote the open-ended conflicts in which America is stuck. Both leaders went on to reduce US military activities overseas, while continuing to conduct external operations in several countries.

In August, Biden completed a total US military exit from a two-decade war in Afghanistan, where the Taliban quickly regained control. Months after the withdrawal, however, adjacent Kazakhstan has erupted in the most serious unrest since the country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1990.

President Kasim-Jomart Tokayev, who came to power after long-time leader Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down in 2019, has faced nationwide demonstrations that have destroyed state institutions and over the weekend over a rise in fuel prices. Subsequent deadly conflicts have sparked outrage in the energy. Prosperous country.

The turmoil led to the resignation of Tokayev’s cabinet and a nationwide state of emergency, followed by an appeal for aid from the ally Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which he described as a “terrorist gang”. who have received “extensive training abroad.”

The CSTO, which also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, responded to this call for help by deploying peacekeeping forces to reduce Kazakhstan’s unrest in accordance with Article 4 of the Post-Soviet Mutual Defense Agreement. Is. The unprecedented intervention has raised concerns in the US, but Antonov has sought to dispel any warnings about the move.

“As for Washington’s role, we hope that no one will question the right of Kazakhstan to enforce Article 4 of the Organization’s Charter of Collective Security Treaty. It was used to ensure law and order in the allied republic. It was,” said Antonov. “Russia sees violent incidents provoked externally in a friendly country aimed at undermining its security and integrity. We will assist efforts to restore normal life in Kazakhstan.”

A platoon of US soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion of the Arizona Army National Guard conducts a tactical infantry patrol at the Chilikemer training area near Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 23, 2019. After gaining independence from the Soviets, the US forged a strategic partnership with Kazakhstan. union, but Moscow still considers the neighboring country a major ally.
US Army/Major Kevin Sandell

Russian airborne troops and other allied units have infiltrated Kazakhstan as turmoil continues in the neighboring country. Despite Kazakh authorities launching an “anti-terrorist operation” to end the devastation, there have been reports of protesters looting police gear and starting gun battles in the most populous city of Almaty.

On Friday, Tokayev announced that he had ordered his forces to “shoot to kill without warning” as violence continues in Kazakhstan.

The US has called for peace so far, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking on the phone with his Kazakh counterpart Mukhtar Tlebardi on Thursday to express Washington’s position on the situation.

“The secretary reiterated the United States’ full support for Kazakhstan’s constitutional institutions and media freedom, and advocated a peaceful, rights-respecting solution to the crisis,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

But Blinken also noted another issue at play along Russia’s border with Ukraine thousands of miles away, where Washington has accused Moscow of pooling forces in preparation for possible military action.

“The secretary also raised the priority of promoting stability in Europe, including support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in response to Russia’s aggression,” Price said.

Ukraine, another former republic of the Soviet Union, went through a massive insurgency of its own in 2014, with a pro-Western government coming to power. Alliance with Russia A rival separatist insurgency broke out in the eastern Donbass region as Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in a move that has been disputed internationally, including by Ukraine and the US. Drew has warned the Kremlin against Kiev’s bid to join NATO.

Like the CSTO, NATO has a Collective Security Agreement that states that any aggression against a member constitutes an attack on the collective group, meaning any Russian move could bring about an all-out conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin has argued that Ukraine’s accession to NATO and the possible deployment of further Western troops and military equipment would be an unacceptable incursion of the coalition near Russia’s borders as the coalition has already been working for years to include other parts of the East. has moved east. Soviet Union and its allies.

For the first time since taking office 20 years ago, Putin has also accused Washington of instigating “color revolutions” aimed at eroding Moscow’s sphere of influence in Eurasia.

The current standoff over Ukraine prompted Biden to hold back-to-back talks with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last month. Next week, US officials will attend a bilateral round of talks with Moscow and a meeting of representatives of Russia and NATO aimed at de-escalating the tense situation in Eastern Europe.

On Friday, Blinken briefed reporters on recent consultations with NATO allies “as part of a coordinated response to Russia’s military build-up on the Ukraine border and its increasingly intensifying threats and inflammatory rhetoric.”

Blinken quoted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as saying that “Russian aggressive actions are a threat to peace and security in Europe.” He added that the coalition was “ready to respond strongly to further Russian aggression, but a diplomatic solution is still possible and preferable if Russia chooses to do so.”

“That is what we will continue to pursue intensely next week in the strategic stability talks between the United States and Russia with our allies and partners, and at meetings of the NATO-Russia Council and OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,” Blinken said.

But as Washington and Moscow prepare for the gathering, the sudden outbreak of turmoil in the usually stable, energy-rich state of Kazakhstan has drawn the attention of both powers as well as experts who have closely followed the situation. have followed.

“The situation in Kazakhstan came as a surprise to many observers,” Georgy Asatrian, an expert on the Russian International Affairs Council, who served as an associate professor at Moscow State University and the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, told Greeley Tribune. “Kazakhstan seemed to be an established, relatively prosperous and stable republic, with authoritarian forms of government for the Central Asian region.

“However, as practice has shown, this type of autocracy is stable only at first glance,” he said. “Yet, in reality, they are subject to internal contradictions, inter-clan conflicts, socio-economic problems and excessive corruption.”

Unlike Ukraine, where the objectives of the West and Russia are largely opposed, Asatrian argued that a return to normalcy in Kazakhstan was in the interest of all top stakeholders.

“The stabilization of Kazakhstan, it seems to me, is beneficial to all major players, including Russia, the United States and China,” he said. “There are a lot of Western and Chinese investments in this country. In addition, Russia is a formal ally of Kazakhstan in various integration formats.”

kazakhstan, protest, almaty, administrative, building
A burned-down administrative building in Kazakhstan’s central Almaty on Friday following violence sparked protests over a fuel price hike. The country’s president rejected calls for talks with protesters after days of unrest, vowing to destroy “armed bandits” and authorizing his forces to shoot to kill without warning.
Alexander Bogdanov/AFP/Getty Images

And while the US has neither welcomed nor condemned the CSTO intervention on Tokayev’s part, the Biden administration has already taken a skeptical tone.

“When it comes to CSTO, we have questions about the nature of the request, why it came up,” Blinken said on Friday. “We are trying to find out more about it. It seems to me that the Kazakh authorities and the government certainly have the ability to deal with the protests appropriately, to do so with the protesters while maintaining law and order. So it is not clear why they feel the need for any outside help, so we are trying to find out more about it.”

He continued, “We certainly call on those peacekeeping forces and law enforcement to abide by international human rights standards to support a peaceful solution. And again, we hope that the government itself will address those problems.” Which are basically economic and political in nature. These are the protests.”

As for the concurrent crises in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Blinken said he “will not face these situations” because “there are very specific drivers of what is happening in Kazakhstan right now, as I said, let’s go to economic and political matters.” And what is happening there is different from what is happening on the borders of Ukraine.”

At the same time, he provided a common denominator: “I think a lesson in recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to leave them.”

On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement shared with newsweek Explaining the rationale behind its decision to support the joint CSTO response.

“Reaffirming its commitment to allied obligations within the CSTO, the Russian Federation supports the adoption of urgent measures amid the rapidly deteriorating internal political situation and escalation of violence in Kazakhstan,” the ministry said on Thursday. “We view the recent developments in this friendly country as externally provocative attempts to disrupt the security and integrity of the state through violent means, including by trained and organized armed groups.”

Moscow also indicated that it may pursue further measures with fellow members of the CSTO, which counts the Collective Rapid Reaction Force and the Collective Rapid Deployment Force among its armed assets.

“The Russian Federation will continue its close consultation with Kazakhstan and other allies in the CSTO to take, if necessary, more effective measures, primarily to assist anti-terrorist operations by Kazakhstan’s law enforcement agencies, to ensure the safety of all citizens. country without exception, and to secure all vital infrastructure and their operations and bring them back under the control of the Kazakh authorities,” the ministry said.

“We want a speedy restoration of normal life in the republic,” it added.

Kazakhstan, protest, CSTO, intervention
Police officers on Friday detained a protester during a rally outside the Kyrgyz parliament building in Bishkek to protest the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s decision to deploy peacekeeping troops to Kazakhstan.
Vyacheslav Osledko / AFP / Getty Images