Kazakhstan Continues to Break Ranks With Russia

Kazakhstan is distancing itself from Russia – that was the unstated message in President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s remarks on the 2022 United Nations Basic Meeting. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech asserting a partial mobilization aired a day later. The 2 speeches exhibit how the 2 neighbors, shut protection and commerce allies, have vastly totally different views about world geopolitics and the struggle in Ukraine.

Tokayev devoted the primary a part of his September 20 speech to expressing his views in regards to the present world state of affairs. He argued, “[W]e should rethink the linkages between three primordial rules: the sovereign equality of states, the territorial integrity of states, and peaceable coexistence between states.” He added that “the world is falling prey to a brand new set of army conflicts,” with out mentioning Ukraine by title. Concerning nuclear weapons, the Kazakhstani head of state argued, “we face the prospect of the usage of nuclear weapons, and never whilst a final resort,” and “we’re alarmed by the elevated rivalry and rhetoric of Nuclear States,” although he didn’t explicitly point out Russia.

A day later, on September 21, Putin introduced a partial mobilization. To justify this excessive choice he argued, “the aim of that a part of the West is to weaken, divide and in the end destroy our nation.” Furthermore, he mentioned, the Russian authorities is prepared and keen to make the most of nuclear weapons to guard Russian territorial integrity. Nevertheless, the concept of “territorial integrity” is imprecise and turns into much more sophisticated as Russian-held territories in Ukraine plan to arrange referendums to be annexed into the Russian Federation. Ought to these controversial referendums happen, Moscow can argue that Ukrainian operations in these territories are assaults in opposition to Russia, which might take the battle to a brand new, extra harmful stage.

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The dichotomy of each messages is self-evident.

Kazakhstan-Russia relations are complicated. On the one hand, the nations preserve cordial diplomatic relations, with strong protection and financial ties. Tokayev participated within the St. Petersburg Worldwide Financial Discussion board in June, which included a public assembly with Putin, and likewise attended the Shanghai Cooperation Group (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in mid-September. Concerning army affairs, Kazakhstani troops participated within the Russian-organized Military Video games in August.

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Alternatively, the Kazakhstani authorities has not expressed help for Russia’s goals and operations in Ukraine. Astana (not Nur-Sultan) has refused to acknowledge Ukraine’s separatist areas – a proven fact that was additionally subtly highlighted by Tokayev on the UNGA, as beforehand famous. Kazakhstan has not despatched troops to Ukraine and is in opposition to Kazakhstani civilians combating for Russia. Furthermore, throughout a gathering with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan in August, Tokayev and the Azerbaijani chief spoke to one another of their nation’s respective mom tongues, not Russian, the lingua franca of the post-Soviet world. That is one other instance of regional nations trying to distance themselves from Russia and the Soviet legacy. 

Extra lately, on September 16, the U.N. Basic Meeting voted to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ship a pre-recorded speech. The choice was adopted by a recorded vote of 101 in favor and 7 in opposition to (together with Russia and Belarus) with 19 abstentions. Kazakhstan didn’t vote, which may be interpreted as Astana in search of to not help or antagonize Moscow.

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Whereas the 2 governments usually take pleasure in cordial relations, it’s evident that Kazakhstan’s current selections haven’t happy the Russian authorities. In July, the Russian authorities briefly shut down the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), which transports Kazakhstani oil by Russian territory. In early September, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev posted on Vkontakte to his 2 million followers that Kazakhstan is an “synthetic state” and accused Astana of a “genocide” in opposition to ethnic Russians residing in northern Kazakhstan. (The put up was deleted, and Medvedev’s crew argued that his account had been hacked.)

The irony of Medvedev’s accusation is that many Russians will presumably migrate to Kazakhstan within the close to future. Putin’s partial mobilization order has precipitated Russian males to journey to GeorgiaTurkey, the UAE, and different nations to keep away from the draft. It’s too early to inform what number of Russians will transfer to Kazakhstan, however this concern ought to be monitored intently – current movies shared by way of Kazakhstani teams in Telegram present lengthy queues of automobiles on the Mashtakov border crossing between Samara (Russia) and Oral (Kazakhstan), although The Diplomat can not independently confirm after they have been recorded.

Whereas one presidential speech can simply be misplaced within the plethora of speeches, bulletins and side-meetings on the U.N. Basic Meeting, to not point out Putin’s announcement, Tokayev’s feedback are noteworthy. His not-so-subtle criticism of the Russian authorities concerning Ukraine shouldn’t be missed. Whereas the Central Asian nation can not erase its Soviet historical past (there’s loads of historic revisionism happening elsewhere), it’s incorrect to proceed viewing Kazakhstan as a part of Russia’s close to overseas.

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