Kazakhstan in 2022 (Part 2)

In the previous article, we talked about the events that affected the country, on a national scale with the protests of January 2022 and on a local scale with the case of Ekibastouz, which is a revealing element of the unequal development of cities in Kazakhstan. It was seen that the recent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was moving away from the influence of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev. In this second part on “Kazakhstan in 2022”, it will be mentioned the consequences of the war in Ukraine on the relations that Kazakhstan has with the rest of the world, especially with Russia. Then on the present and future agreements.
Cover photo © Credits to iStock/Aureliy. Prise sur le site :
Cover photo © Credits to iStock/Aureliy. Prise sur le site : https://www.itinari.com/fr/five-places-not-to-be-missed-in-almaty-4fet

The consequences that the war in Ukraine has in Kazakhstan

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the majority of the states that make up the UN have condemned this invasion. Actually, very few have sided with Russia. Even known allies or former states constituting the former USSR, preferred to abstain from the vote. This is the case of Kazakhstan, during the vote of the General Assembly of the United Nations on March 3, 2022, which preferred to be neutral by abstaining.
However, since its independence in 1991 after the fall of the USSR, Astana and Moscow have kept very close ties, as with Kiev.

As a reminder, in 2008 during the war in Georgia, Kazakhstan did not recognize the independence of the Republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The same in 2014, the annexation of Crimea by the Russians, and also for the referendum organized by Putin for the independence of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporijia and Kherson.

Kazakhstan is quite attached to keep its territory and to respect those of the others. Thing that Russia does not respect with Ukraine, but also with Georgia. Astana holds to its values of independent government and peaceful coexistence among its neighbors. However, Russia does not respect these principles and can frighten the former powers of the USSR, especially in Central Asia. Indeed, they may wonder if they will not be next.

However, Kazakhstan is openly showing support to Ukraine by sending humanitarian aid. The population organized a festival on April 10 to collect donations for Kiev. This marks a growing distance between Kazakhstan and Russia.
This distance marks an interest in Europe and the United States, which they do not intend to let down and whose initiative they welcome.

Kazakhstan also has to deal with immigration from Russia. Since the partial mobilization decreed by Putin of Russian civilians for the war. Kazakhstan has received no less than 200,000 Russians. Nevertheless, nearly three-quarters of them quickly left, according to the Kazakh Minister of the Interior, Marat Akhmetjanov. Nevertheless, President Tokayev said, “We must take care of them, ensure their safety,” referring to Russian refugees fleeing Putin’s mobilization.

Present and future agreements with foreign powers

Kazakhstan remains under Russian influence. Russia uses strategic sites within Kazakhstan. For example a cosmodrome in Baikonur was used as a base for launching satellites or rockets. It is also used as a test base for ballistic missiles. In Kostanai near the Russian border, there is a military airfield. Then towards Lake Balkhach, there is the Balkhach-9 radar station and an anti-ballistic missile test center that Russia is still operating in 2022. With the multiple strategic sites that Russia uses in Kazakhstan, it would be regrettable for Russia if the two states “separate”.

Kazakhstan is involved in several economic and military organizations, where Russia is also a member. One of those is CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization). It is a military organization that can be compared to NATO. It intervened during the demonstrations in January 2022 to calm the protests. Kazakhstan is also part of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), which is primarily a military organization to fight against fundamentalist and separatist movements. It is also economic. It was founded in 2001 by 6 countries including Kazakhstan, and now has 9 member states.

The site geoconfluence shows a very nice map and gives very good information on the SCO. (You can check out the link below : http://geoconfluences.ens-lyon.fr/glossaire/organisation-de-cooperation-de-shanghai-ocs).

Kazakhstan is also part of the Eurasian Economic Union of which it is also a founder. It was created in 2014, it aims to establish a common market.
The consequences of the war in Ukraine mark a clear distance with Russia. Thry allow other countries to be interested in Kazakhstan for agreements, pacts or business of economic or military orders. That has happened with China or countries of the West like Turkey.

China is particularly interested in Kazakh oil. Indeed, it has already signed military cooperation agreements with Kazakhstan while supporting the territorial integrity of the country. This alone shows China’s interest in one of the largest countries in Central Asia. Beijing’s interest in the region may overshadow Moscow, which has always had the most influence in Central Asia, especially in terms of security.

On the other side in the West, a strategic partnership treaty with Turkey was concluded on May 10 and 11, 2022, for the launch of the production of ANKA combat drones in Kazakhstan. This agreement also provides for joint military maneuvers.

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photography of Giorgia Meloni / crédit @Andreas Solaro
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