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Kazakhstan says Russian-led troops will start leaving in two days

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Kyrgyz soldiers stand guard at a power plant in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, on January 11, 2022. (Photo via AFP)

Kazakhstan’s president says a Russia-led military alliance will start leaving after helping quell “foreign-backed” protests in the oil-rich Central Asian country.

In an address to senior government officials and members of parliament, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that the withdrawal would take “no more than 10 days.”

Last week, Tokayev asked the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to send troops to his country to help thwart violent protests and the worst political crisis in the nation’s history.

He said the CSTO’s main mission had been successfully completed.

Mass protests began in Kazakhstan’s western province of Mangistau on January 2 after the government decided to lift price controls on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) — a move that roughly doubled gas prices in a matter of days. Protests then engulfed other parts of the country.

Authorities said on Tuesday that life had returned to normal in the country’s main city and former capital, Almaty.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the 2,500 Russian-led soldiers would “continue their mission until the situation fully stabilizes” but that it would be “up to the Kazakh leadership” to decide when that happens.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that order was returning to Kazakhstan after the CSTO deployment, which “showed that we will not allow anyone to stir up the situation at home.”

“We understand that events in Kazakhstan are far from the first or last attempt to interfere in the domestic affairs of our states,” Putin added.

Tensions between Moscow and the West have reached their highest point in years over the conflict in Ukraine, which has sought close ties with the United States and its NATO allies.

Kazakhstan is a major oil and uranium producer. Authorities have said the unrest is foreign-backed and aims to "undermine the security and integrity of the state by force, using trained and organized armed formations".

It is on the crossroads of China’s $1.5 trillion Belt and Road Initiative that has won over the support of developing countries all over the world, but ruffled feathers in the West which has been searching for an alternative.   

The Central Asian country is also part of the China-led eight-member bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which includes Iran, Russia, Indian and Pakistan.

The unrest is seen as an attempt by foreign parties to provoke “color revolutions” in the ex-Soviet country, modeled on the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia and the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, which Russia has blamed on the West.


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