Tokayev Downplays January CSTO Deployment to Kazakhstan

In an interview with Russia’s state-owned Rossiya 24, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev downplayed the Collective Safety Treaty Group (CTSO) deployment to Kazakhstan in January. 

Tokayev stated some folks in Russia “misrepresent the entire state of affairs.” They are saying, he continued, that Russia “saved” Kazakhstan and now Nur-Sultan should eternally “serve and bow on the toes” of Russia. Tokayev referred to as that reasoning “removed from actuality.” He famous that the CSTO deployment didn’t fireplace a single bullet whereas in Kazakhstan and left inside 10 days.

The conflict in Ukraine, which started with Russia’s invasion on February 24, implicitly influences the framing of Tokayev’s feedback. In any case, Russian rhetoric about Ukraine — for instance, President Vladimir Putin’s feedback that its statehood is a “fiction” — echoes feedback up to now about Kazakhstan. And Russian commentators proceed to stir the pot, speaking up Russia’s significance on the expense of its companions. In April, Russian filmmaker and TV presenter Tigran Keosayan (who occurs to be married to Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of RT and Rossiya Segodnya) reacted strongly to Nur-Sultan’s resolution to not maintain a navy parade on Victory Day by calling Kazakhstan “ungrateful,” amongst different nastier feedback. “Take a look at Ukraine rigorously, assume significantly,” he stated, a remark many interpreted as a menace. 

However, Tokayev’s efforts to reframe dialogue concerning the CSTO deployment pre-date the conflict. 

In early February, whilst Tokayev heralded the CSTO deployment as crucial, he had repeated the identical particulars of their brief deployment and marginal exercise in Kazakhstan. In an interview with the Qazaqstan TV channel on the time, Tokayev defended his resolution to request CSTO backup as “completely appropriate.”

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“[I]f the peacekeeping contingent had not been introduced in in a well timed method, the terrorists would have captured different cities,” he stated, doubling down on the state’s unsubstantiated narrative that the violence seen in early January was the results of 1000’s of terrorists. 

However, even then, he pushed again on those that stated Kazakhstan would “owe” Russia for the help. Tokayev in February stated to Qazaqstan TV that the CSTO is just not “ a private military of Vladimir Putin or Russia.” He stated the peacekeeping contingent was frequent to all member nations and its actions geared toward defending remark pursuits. True on paper as which may be, Russian troops shaped the majority of the January CSTO deployment. And though CSTO members have beforehand requested help from the group, the January deployment was the CSTO’s first — a element analysts have scrambled to clarify.

On January 5, as protests entered their third day throughout Kazakhstan and commenced to spiral into violence in Almaty, Tokayev declared a state of emergency and requested CSTO help below the group’s collective safety provision. The CSTO agreed to ship a “peacekeeping pressure” below Article 4, which states that, “If one of many States Events is subjected to aggression by any state or group of states, then this shall be thought of as aggression in opposition to all States Events to this Treaty” and supplies for different members to supply navy help. 

The choice was a shock to many observers. Kazakhstan’s unrest in early January appeared very a lot an inner matter, not the product of an exterior menace to which Article 4 is designed to reply. That is the guts of commentary suggesting that Kazakhstan might “owe” Putin for the assist in a second of disaster. We don’t know what the inner CSTO discussions in early January have been, however the group had denied requests for Article 4 help from Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and Armenia in 2021. Paradoxically, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is the present chair of the Collective Safety Council, so he was the one who introduced the deployment to Kazakhstan.

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On the CSTO summit in Moscow final month, whereas Tokayev didn’t dwell on the deployment, Putin did. In his remarks he highlighted the CSTO deployment as exhibiting “the maturity of our Group and its actual potential to adequately stand up to acute challenges and threats.” He perpetrated the Kazakh state narrative, saying that the CSTO forces, “despatched into Kazakhstan for a restricted time period, prevented extremists, together with these directed from overseas, from seizing energy and helped to rapidly stabilize the inner political state of affairs within the republic.”

The CSTO deployment maybe meant extra for Russia, as a option to sign its energy and affect, the solidity of its partnerships, and their navy may, than it did to Kazakhstan.