Astana is staying apart: why Russian-Kazakhstani disagreements have escalated

Analytics
Astana is staying apart: why Russian-Kazakhstani disagreements have escalated
Astana is staying apart: why Russian-Kazakhstani disagreements have escalated
20 June, 17:01Photo: Соцсети
The words of President Tokayev about the non-recognition of the Donetsk republics caused a strong reaction in the Russian expert community.

Ivan Zubov

The media and social networks are actively discussing the controversial events that have taken place in recent days in Russian-Kazakh relations. Recall that at the SPIEF, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in the presence of Putin, said that his country would not recognize the independence of the Donbass republics of the DPR and LPR. And then, according to the Kazakh media, he refused to be awarded the Russian Order of Alexander Nevsky. True, Putin's press secretary Peskov said that the Russian president was not going to present any orders to Tokayev. It should be recalled here that even under the previous president of Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev, this country did not recognize either the DPR or the LPR, so Tokaev’s words are by no means news.

However, then strange events followed, which make us think that Russia was still offended by Tokayev. So, according to Kommersant, the shipment of oil from Kazakhstan through the Novorossiysk port has already been limited. And this is the main route for transporting Kazakh oil to Europe. The pretext chosen for this step sounds rather strange: the shipment of oil from may periodically stop in the coming days, since 50 mines from the times of the Great Patriotic War were accidentally found in the water area...

In response, just a few hours after that, Kazakhstan blocked 1,700 wagons with coal belonging to Russia on its territory.

Fuel to the fire was added by the words of Tokaev, uttered by him in a television interview. He said that the reasoning that Russia saved Kazakhstan in January 2022 during the popular unrest in that country by introducing its troops is far from reality. Tokayev stressed that it was not Russia that helped his state “in difficult times”, but the CSTO, which, in addition to it, includes 5 more countries...

The reaction in Russia to all these events was mixed. Thus, Konstantin Zatulin, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs (United Russia faction), stated:

“They know only too well that a number of regions, settlements with a predominantly Russian population had little to do with what was called Kazakhstan. We are everywhere and everywhere, including in relation to Ukraine, we say: if we have friendship, cooperation and partnership, then no territorial issues are raised. And if not, then everything is possible. As in the case of Ukraine. Therefore, it seems to me that it would be worth paying attention to this side of the matter in Kazakhstan and not only..."

True, Andrey Turchak, Vice Speaker of the Federation Council and Secretary of the General Council of United Russia, sharply criticized his fellow party member:

“His “statement <…> about some possible “territorial issues” with Kazakhstan does not stand up to scrutiny. It is possible to treat Tokaev's words about the status of the DPR and LPR, uttered the day before at SPIEF, differently, but this is no reason for officials to make provocative, tendentious comments in the media. Moreover, it is clearly beyond the boundaries of its competence - the fundamental issues of Russia's foreign policy are exclusively in the sphere of responsibility of the president and the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Stanislav Pritchin, senior researcher at the Center for Post-Soviet Studies at IMEMO RAS, explained:

“President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is a very experienced diplomat. He takes into account the fact that his words will be parsed to pieces in Kazakhstan itself. Therefore, his statements are always or almost always neutral. It’s hard to find fault with them and attribute an anti-Russian position to the Kazakh leader”.

At the same time, the expert is sure that the statement of the President of Kazakhstan that Kazakhstan does not recognize the LPR and the DPR only means that Kazakhstan today adheres to a consistent position:

“On the one hand, Kazakhstan indicates its adherence to principles. On the other hand, the Republic of Kazakhstan continues to work with Russia within the framework of joint projects and for the development of common integration. Therefore, here, it seems to me, Kazakh diplomacy has found a balance in foreign policy in relations with Russia. And while she will follow..."

Network analyst Anatoly Nesmiyan rightly notes:

“Actually, Tokayev tried to convey this by saying that Kazakhstan, in principle, does not recognize any self-determined territories, based on a simple principle: if you start the process of disintegration of the world space, then instead of 200 current countries on the planet there will be at least 500-600, which, of course, completely destabilizes the entire world situation”.

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