More about upheaval in Kazakhstan

I don’t claim to understand what’s going on in Kazakhstan, but I think the rebellion there is going to be important for the world, not just for the unfortunate people who live there.

I have a feeling it is a turning point, like the 2014 crisis in Ukraine.

First, Kazakhstan is important to Russia. About 3.5 million Kazakhstan’s nearly 19 million population are ethnic Russians and a large fraction are Russian citizens. If Kazakhstan collapses, Russia would be flooded with refugees—not all of them Russian.

The Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is the heart of Russia’s space program. It is Russia’s main source of uranium. Russia conducts its anti-ballistic missile testing in Kazakhstan. Russia depends on Kazakhstan for uranium for its nuclear weapons and nuclear energy programs.

Kazakhstan is important to China, too.  As the largest Central Asian nation in area, it is a important crossing point for roads, railroads and oil and gas pipelines in China’s Belt and Roads (aka New Silk Roads) initiative.

I don’t know what’s behind the revolt. There are many understandable and justifiable reasons why the Kazakh people might rebel. But Russian military and political leaders perceive it as an act of what they call hybrid warfare.

In their eyes, the script is this.  Ordinary citizens are encouraged to gather to protest real injustices, often with the advice and funding of the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy.  Then some violent clash takes place, or mysterious snipers start shooting. The protests become an armed uprising, supported by the U.S. and other foreign governments.

I don’t know whether these suspicions are justified.  Certainly there are many reasons why Kazakh people would want to revolt against their corrupt oligarchy.  I do say Russian suspicions are understandable.

President Vladimir Putin has already said he will not tolerate Ukraine becoming a base for NATO troops, from which they could attack Russia. Presumably that also goes for Kazakhstan.

I am not saying that Putin, backed into a corner, would start a nuclear war, or even risk one.  I do say that Russia is the only nation with a large enough nuclear arsenal to wipe out the USA, and I do not want to put Putin’s restraint to a test.

I remember the Soviet interventions in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.  I admired and pitied the brave people of those countries at the time.  I would not have been willing to start or risk a nuclear war for their sakes.


The situation in Kazakhstan is a much bigger deal than the Western media is letting on by Clint Ehrlich on Twitter.  The key facts.

Russia-led troops to start leaving in two days by Deutsche Welle.  [Added1/11/2022]  That was quick.

Kazakhstan’s unrest narrative derailed by confusion and blackout by Peter Leonard for Eurasianet.

In Kazakhstan, Russia’s imperium grows—at China’s expense by Brandon J. Weichert for Asia Times.

Ex-security chief and Nazarbayev ally arrested by Joanna Lillis for Eurasianet.

Protests in Kazakhstan: Putin’s nightmare? by Olga Goncharko, Emily Sherwin and Olga Sosnystra for

Kazakhstan Uprising Is Against Rulers Bribed by Exxon, BP by Greg Palast.

Poverty, inequality, corruption: why Kazakhstan’s former leader is no longer untouchable by Shaun Walker for The Guardian.


3 Responses to “More about upheaval in Kazakhstan”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    Kazakhstan may just be the US reminding the Russians that two can play the same game.


    • philebersole Says:

      Vladimir Putin is the authoritarian ruler of a nation dominated by a corrupt oligarchy, but, in his relations with the USA, he has not been the aggressor. Since the Clinton administration, the USA (or rather its “deep state”) has been on the offense and Russia on the defense.

      This may be about to change, and we Americans will be the ones to be reminded that two can play the same game.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bill Harvey Says:

    Thanks for watching this for us, Phil. It helps me to get my bearings. B


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