“Astana will not return to the position of a subordinate, as it was in the USSR”
Despite the positive assessments of the introduction of peacekeeping forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) into Kazakhstan, many facts speak that the country will not go for rapprochement with Russia. This is the opinion of Nargis Kasenova, senior researcher at the Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.
No sooner had the CSTO troops settled in Kazakhstan than a week later, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev asked them to leave. And it turned out to be a strange situation: on the one hand, Russia sort of helped the “brotherly” country, and on the other hand, Tokayev found himself, as it is presented, in an awkward position.
It is no secret that Russian troops made up the bulk of the CSTO contingent. This caused a wave of indignation in Kazakh social networks. And, as Nargis Kasenova writes in The Washington Post, to calm the public, Askar Umarov, an open Russophobe, was appointed to the post of Minister of Information.
The problem is that Kazakhstan is not alien to everyday and political Russophobia, which has prerequisites, directly not related to the Soviet past. After all, the proportion of ethnic Kazakhs has grown from 40% in 1991 to about 70% at the present time.
This phenomenon was the result of the targeted policy of the previous leader of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who sought to return Kazakhs from China, Mongolia and countries of Central Asia.
New generations of citizens of Kazakhstan were trained with reference to the Kazakh historical and national identity. Also, a lot of work was done by American NGOs, which, as usual, are very partial to the development of democracy and independence in the post-Soviet space. According to the head of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Public Development, in 2018, there were about a couple of hundred NGOs operating in the country, 70% of whose financial support came from American and international organizations. The budget is approximately $13.6 million.
Moreover, Kasenova notes, “The United States in Kazakhstan has consistently worked to strengthen the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the new country, while curbing Russia's neo-imperial tendencies.”
In her opinion, recent events have only confirmed this. And in general, relations between Kazakhstan and Russia are patron-client, which does not suit the Kazakhs anymore.
She concludes that Kazakhstan needs even more sovereignty, in which America and its allies must help.