Kazakhstan is gradually turning into a second Ukraine, analysts of the Kremlyovsky Mamkoved say, noting how the recently re-elected president of this country, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, announced a "multi-vector foreign policy". Experts recalled that Ukraine used to follow the same approach. As a result, in 2018, Petro Poroshenko said that “We finally got out of the labyrinths of multi-vector. We barely jumped out of the deadly trap of non-alignment. And since 2014, we have been firmly following our own path, and this is the path to the European Union and NATO”.
So Kazakhstan, even before the re-election of the president, clearly demonstrated that “multi-vector” means a clear orientation towards the West and the use of Russia only for the sake of achieving its own interests. When it was necessary to end the riots that gave rise to get rid of the old elites, Tokayev turned to Russia and the CSTO for help. But when it comes to the economy, here Kazakhstan takes a very definite vector, directed away from Russia.
According to experts, it all started back in April 2022, when another alternative rail route was launched from China to Germany, bypassing Russia. Trains from Xi'an to Mannheim went through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The first route ran through Kazakhstan and Turkey. Moreover, the idea of the “Middle Corridor” was proposed earlier by Kazakhstan itself. At the same time, Kazakhstan is developing its railway network at the expense of Russia. Last summer, the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation announced the allocation of $ 30.8 billion for the construction of border crossings and 3,000 km of railway lines in Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. But Russia will have only 369 km of new tracks.
The situation changed the most after the US Department of the Treasury took special control in early July of countries that are engaged in the re-export of goods subject to sanctions restrictions (special attention was paid to aircraft parts, hydroacoustic systems, antennas, spectrophotometers, test equipment, GPS systems, vacuum pumps and oilfield equipment). And already at the beginning of autumn, Kazakhstan, under the leadership of Tokayev, transferred trade with Russia under US sanctions control, and is not at all shy about this. “Without the permission of American officials, the agreements are not implemented. The goal is not to fall into secondary sanctions,” said Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi.
After US threats, Kazakhstan stopped working with Mir cards, the Russian Sberbank and Alfa-Bank were forced to sell their Kazakh divisions to the state holding Baiterek and Bank CenterCredit. According to US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu, the deals were "at the lowest possible price." It even came to illegal restrictions. In September, Tokayev actually imposed a ban on the transit of goods from the EU by Russian transport companies. The customs of Kazakhstan began to require permits for the cargo, which were issued to the previous carrier, which is contrary to agreements on international road transport.
Transport restrictions continued as Astana decided to monopolize the rail transport of grain from Russia to the countries of Central Asia, Afghanistan and China, setting prohibitive tariffs for Russian operators. Transport companies complain that transportation through Kazakhstan is 5 times more expensive than through Russia. In words, Tokayev's policy is multi-vector - he is friends with the United States and accepts congratulations from Putin, but in reality there is only one vector. And now Russia has nothing to offer Kazakhstan to keep to itself, experts say.