Tag Archives: Kazakhstan

Russian Soldiers Need a Map, by Ted Snider

Those stupid Russian soldiers don’t even know which countries they’re supposed to be invading. From Ted Snider at antiwar.com:

Either Russian troops aren’t reading the script the West handed out, or the script is wrong. Russian troops seem to be marching in the wrong direction. According to the American script, Russian soldiers are advancing on Ukraine and permanently stationing in Kazakhstan. According to what is actually happening on the world stage, Russian troops are diminishing on the Ukraine border and leaving Kazakhstan.

The recent crisis in Kazakhstan is confusing and seems to have many causes. Behind the crisis may be a battle for power between opposing political elites who are loyal either to the current president or the previous president. There is also popular anger over the canyon that separates the oil enriched elites from the impoverished population.

Whatever the cause, the crisis turned Kazakhstan into what The New York Times called “a war zone.” Faced with the crisis and the violence, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) sent troops to help restore calm. In addition to Russia, the CSTO includes Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. What is often not included in Western reporting is that the CSTO troops did not arrive as part of a Russian invasion but at the invitation of the president of Kazakhstan.

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Craig Murray: What Kazakhstan Isn’t

One thing Kazakhstan isn’t is known in the United States, where 99.99 percent couldn’t find it on a map. It is, however, because of its location, size, and resources, an important country. From Craig Murray at consortiumnews.com:

As in all systems without democratic accountability or effective legal impunity for the elite, frustration and resentment among the general population has built naturally. 

Demonstrators march on the central square of Aktobe, Kazakhstan, on Jan. 4. (Esetok, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Knowledge of Kazakhstan in the West is extremely slim, particularly among western media, and many responses to events there have been wildly off-beam.

The narrative on the right is that Putin is looking to annex Kazakhstan, or at least the majority ethnic Russian areas in the north. This is utter nonsense.

The narrative on the left is that the CIA is attempting to instigate another color revolution and put a puppet regime into Nur-Sultan (as the capital is called this week). This also is utter nonsense.

The lack of intellectual flexibility among Western commentators entrapped in the confines of their own culture wars is a well-established feature of modern political society. Distorting a picture into this frame is not so easily detectable where the public have no idea what the picture normally looks like, as with Kazakhstan.

When you jump into a taxi in Kazakhstan, getting your suitcase into the boot is often problematic as it will be already full with a large LPG canister. Roof racks are big in Kazakhstan. Most Kazakh vehicles run on LPG, which has traditionally been a subsidized product of the nation’s massive oil and gas industry.

Fuel price rises have become, worldwide, a particular trigger of public discontent. The origins of the Yellow Vests movement in France lay in fuel price rises before spreading to other areas of popular grievance. The legacy of fuel protests in the U.K. have led for years cowardly politicians to submit to annual real reductions in the rate of fuel duty, despite climate change concerns.

The current political crisis in Kazakhstan was spiked by moves to deregulate the LPG market and end subsidy, which led to sharp price increases. These brought people onto the streets. The government quickly backed down and tried to reinstate price controls but not producer subsidies; that would have led gas stations to sell at a loss. The result was fuel shortages that just made protest worse.

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Why The Kazakhstan Crisis Is A Much Bigger Deal Than Western Media Is Letting On, by Tyler Durden

Look at the map below and it becomes clear why Kazakhstan is important. It’s a huge country and shares a long border with Russia. It may be as important to Russia as Ukraine and Belarus. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Geopolitical commentator Clint Ehrlich has reported while on the ground in Moscow that “the situation in Kazakhstan is a much bigger deal than Western media is letting on.” He further argues that the mayhem unleashed this past week and ongoing violent destabilization significantly increases the risk of NATO-Russia conflict.

He asks the key question: what really is happening in Kazakhstan? After all, he writes  “In America, the situation in Kazakhstan is a small news item” but it remains that “in Moscow, it is currently receiving 24/7 news coverage, like it’s an apocalyptic threat to Russia’s security. I’ve had the TV on here while writing this thread, and Kazakhstan has been on the entire time.” Below is Ehrlich’s mega-thread from Twitter exploring the crisis and connecting the dots in terms of why this is a bigger deal than many believe…

Mass protests and anti-government violence have left dozens dead. Russia is deploying 3,000 paratroopers after Kazakh security forces were overrun. The largest city, Almaty, looks like a warzone. To appreciate why Russia is willing to deploy troops to Kazakhstan, it’s critical to understand the depth of Russia’s vital national interests inside the country. This isn’t just any former Soviet republic. It’s almost as important to Russia as Belarus or Ukraine.

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Putin Stamps Out the Fire in Kazakhstan and Ukraine, by Tom Luongo

As is usually the case, Putin has anticipated the U.S. and European’s next move and has effectively countered it. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

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All hands on deck: the Caspian sails towards Eurasia integration, by Pepe Escobar

Step by step Russian and China are leading the Eurasian countries towards cooperation and consolidation, whether the US likes it or not. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

The five states surrounding the sea – Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan – have reached difficult compromises on sovereign and exclusive rights as well as freedom of navigation

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev walk along a  Caspian Sea embankment while participating in the Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan. Photo: Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev walk along a Caspian Sea embankment while participating in the Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan. Photo: Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi
The long-awaited deal on the legal status of the Caspian Sea signed on Sunday in the Kazakh port of Aktau is a defining moment in the ongoing, massive drive towards Eurasia integration.

Up to the early 19th century, the quintessentially Eurasian body of water – a connectivity corridor between Asia and Europe over a wealth of oil and gas – was exclusive Persian property. Imperial Russia then took over the northern margin. After the break up of the USSR, the Caspian ended up being shared by five states; Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

The long-awaited deal on the legal status of the Caspian Sea signed on Sunday in the Kazakh port of Aktau is a defining moment in the ongoing, massive drive towards Eurasia integration.

Up to the early 19th century, the quintessentially Eurasian body of water – a connectivity corridor between Asia and Europe over a wealth of oil and gas – was exclusive Persian property. Imperial Russia then took over the northern margin. After the break up of the USSR, the Caspian ended up being shared by five states; Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.

CaspianSeaAI

Very complex negotiations went on for almost two decades. Was the Caspian a sea or a lake? Should it be divided between the five states into separate, sovereign tracts or developed as a sort of condominium?

Slowly but surely, the five states reached difficult compromises on sovereign and exclusive rights; freedom of navigation; “freedom of access of all the vessels from the Caspian Sea to the world’s oceans and back” – in the words of a Kazakh diplomat; pipeline installation; and crucially, on a military level, the certitude that only armed forces from the five littoral states should be allowed in Caspian waters.

No wonder then that President Putin, in Aktau, described the deal in no uncertain terms as having “epoch-making significance.”

To continue reading: All hands on deck: the Caspian sails towards Eurasia integration