Posts Tagged ‘Kazakhstan’

More about upheaval in Kazakhstan

January 9, 2022

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.


Upheaval in Kazakhstan: Links 1/6/2022

January 6, 2022

Updated 1/8/2022.

Click to enlarge.  Source: Oriental Review.

People in Kazakhstan are in revolt against their authoritarian government and the rich oligarchy it supports.

The revolt was sparked by an increase in fuel prices—surprising, since Kazakhstan is a major producer of natural gas. The CSTO alliance, the Russian-backed equivalent to NATO, has intervened.

The Russian and Kazakhstan governments claim the revolt was instigated by outsiders, and there are reports by U.S. think tanks advocating just such a strategy to hurt Russia.

Which is it?  A revolt against a tyrant, or an example of U.S. meddling?  Maybe both.  You have to read writers of differing views to get a complete picture, and you may not have it even then.


Russian troops arrive in crisis-hit Kazakhstan by David Child, Anealia Safdar and Merisha Gadzo for Al Jazeera.

Kazakhstan: Dozens killed as government unleashes military crackdown by the staff of Eurasianet.

Steppe on fire: Kazakhstan’s color revolution by Pepe Escobar for the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Kazakhstan explainer: Who’s in, who’s out as Tokayev tries to take back control by Joanna Lillis for Eurasianet.

CSTO agrees to intervene in Kazakhstan unrest by Joshua Kucera for Eurasianet

The U.S.-Directed Rebellion in Kazakhstan May Strengthen Russia by Bernhard for Moon of Alabama.


Putin: a would-be Tsar of all the Russians?

May 5, 2015

russians_ethnic_94Source: University of Texas Libraries.

Back when the Ukraine crisis first broke out, I speculated that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s ultimate goal was to reconstitute the old Soviet Union, first by luring the former Soviet Republics into an economic “Eurasian Union” common market, and then to transform the economic union into a political union.

I then began to think, as I still think, that Putin’s policy was more a response to an external threat posed by Ukraine joining NATO and the Russian naval base at Crimea becoming a NATO base.

But there is a third possibility, and that is that Putin is trying to bring all the ethnic Russians back into the Russian Empire.  This would include not only the Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, but in northern Kazakhstan.

The great Russian novelist Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote a tract in 1990 in which he advocated a union of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, with northern Kazakhstan included in Russia, and independence for all the other Soviet republics and satellite states.

Maybe President Putin is thinking along these lines, and maybe he isn’t.  I have no power to read his mind.  But recent reports say that Kazakhstan’s leaders are worried about Russia’s ambitions and their Russian minorities.

Just as in Ukraine, there are reports of increasing Russian discontent and also increasing anti-Russian feeling.   It is easy to imagine Putin stepping in, as he did in Ukraine, to protect his fellow Russians.

The Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia, among others, have large Russian minorities, and, as members of NATO, they are entitled to call upon the United States to defend them if attacked.


Why Kazakhstan matters

May 17, 2012

In the 2006 movie Borat, Sasha Baron Cohen treated the central Asian nation of Kazakhstan as an object of ridicule, a prime example of ignorance and backwardness.  But in fact Kazakhstan is emerging as a key player on the international scene.  This central Asian nation, which is larger than western Europe and borders on Russia and China, is the world’s largest producer of uranium and an important producer of oil and natural gas.  The government of Kazakhstan recently bought a 7.7 percent interest in Westinghouse Corp., one of the two major U.S. manufacturers of nuclear weapons.

President Barack Obama, in talks recently in Seoul, South Korea, conferred one-on-one with Khazakhstan President-for-Life Nursultan Nazarbayev about forging closer ties with the two countries.   The U.S. military provides aid and training for the Kazakhstan armed forces.  A consortium of American universities, including the universities of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, are advising on construction of Nazarbayev University, which will enroll 20,000 students who will be taught entirely in English.

The problem with this, as investigative journalist Allen Ruff said in an interview on the Real News Network, is that the Nazarboyev regime is one of the world’s most brutal and corrupt.  The situation he described reminded me of U.S. relations with the Shah of Iran, prior to the Shah’s overthrow in 1979.   Our government overlooked his human rights violations and encouraged his development of a nuclear energy program because he was considered a key ally and energy supplier.  All this blew up when he was overthrown.

Click on US Befriends Kazakhstan Dicator, Now World’s Largest Producer of Uranium for a transcript of the highly informative broadcast.

Click on RuffTalk for Allen Ruff’s web log.   His recent posts go into the Kazakhstan situation in great detail.  Ruff said Bill Clinton and his Clinton Foundation played a key role in helping Nazarbayev overcome U.S. objections to his Westinghouse acquisition.