As reports of casualties among protesters and police emerge from Kazakhstan, two things are certain: first, Vladimir PoutineVladimir Vladimirovich Putin Overnight Defense & National Security – White House responds to report on US forces NATO rejects Russian demands to stop expansion White House denies report that it plans to withdraw troops from Europe from Europe ‘Is more will not allow a popular uprising against another kleptocratic regime in his neighborhood to succeed. It happened in Ukraine, and it will not happen again. Second, Putin will not pass up the opportunity to extend control over another former Soviet state, especially one with enormous oil and mineral resources – and in this case, he was invited in, so no need. to resume the farce of “little green Men.”
Not unusual for a former Soviet republic, the Kazakh protests were sparked by a massive price increase for liquefied petroleum gas, the fuel on which Kazakhstan’s cars and trucks run. As violent protests spread from western Kazakhstan to urban centers like Almaty and Astana, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev canceled the price increases, but too late. The protesters had already turned to corruption and mismanagement as the main steers.
The video comes in streaming – despite the press clippings – shows Almaty Town Hall was burned down with no firefighters in sight. Dozens of protesters are said to be killed and thousands incarcerated. The government has order his security forces to “shoot without warning”. The number of casualties among the security forces is said to be at least 18. In one case, a security officer was reportedly beheaded.
In one widely criticized move, President Tokayev invited forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which was established after the fall of the Soviet Union and consists of forces from the former Soviet republics. Indeed, the appeal to the CSTO was an open invitation to the intervention of Russian troops. Indeed, footage shows Russian tanks heading for Kazakhstan and Russian paratroopers boarding transport planes. The first Russian “peacekeeping” contingent is reported to have arrived in Almaty. The planned quota is 2,500 soldiers. They must “keep the peace”, of course, not occupy.
The cases of Georgian Abkhazia and South Ossetia, however, show that too often Russian troops do not leave once in the country. These occupations date back to 2008.
Tokayev inherited a powerful security force from Kazakhstan’s “retired” strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev. Active military numbers about 100,000, not to mention the reserves or the internal security forces. Tokayev’s decision was widely criticized because it showed little confidence in Kazakhstan’s own security forces, while opening the door to Russian domination.
Until the protests, Kazakhstan maintained cautious relations with the neighboring Russian Federation. Although 20 percent of Kazakhs are Russian, the Russian Federation has taken no steps to create separatist groups, although some Russian Duma deputies have argued for the incorporation of Kazakhstan into the Russian Federation. In matters of domestic policy, Kazakhstan has largely followed its own path, but Russia has been able to count on its support in matters of foreign policy.
Belarus shows how the presence of Russian troops and “computer scientists” can transform the “occupied” country into a client state. Regarding the protests in Belarus, Russian aid has indeed saved the Lukashenko regime and made Belarus a client state. Although only a small number (1,500) of Russian soldiers are stationed in Belarus, they regularly carry out military exercises. Belarusian immigration policy has become a substitute for Russian policy of pressure on the European Union. As far as Ukraine is concerned, the “annexation” of Belarus opens a new avenue of invasion.
Russian troops serving as “peacekeepers” in Kazakhstan may open a new relationship between Russia and Kazakhstan. Not only will Russian troops be present in Kazakhstan – as in Belarus, Russian cadres will meet in the media, business and public affairs of Kazakhstan.
If Russia obtains political control of Kazakh energy, its share of world oil reserves increases by 40 percent, creating a juggernaut equal to Kuwait. Kazakhstan represents 40% of world uranium production, quite a valuable asset for Russia’s treasure chest.
Putin has presented himself as a “peacekeeper” in Georgia, Syria and Tajikistan. As Russia arms mercenaries fighting in eastern Ukraine, it masquerades as a peacekeeper and “volunteers” to guard the border.
Kazakhstan’s invitation to Russian regular forces to keep the peace breaks the mold and risks costing Kazakhstan all the independence it has long enjoyed.
Paul Roderick Gregory is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Houston, a researcher at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and German researcher Economic research institute. Follow him on twitter @PaulR_Gregory.