Troops of Organization of Collective Security Treaty (ODKB) were not supposed to leave Kazakhstan in January 2022, but they did so. How and why? What was Kazakhstan’s role in Russia’s plans and will the mutual relations develop onwards? We discussed with Mr. Valeriy Solovey.
Mr. Valeriy Dmitriyevich Solovey is a Russian Historian, Political Observer, Publicist and Public Activist. History Doctor. Professor and Head of Chair of Advertisement and Public Relations at the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Affairs in 2007-2019. Some of Mr. Solovey’s forecasts regarding the re-shuffling exercises in the Russian leadership proved to be true. Professor Solovey was right, when stating that Russia would unwind a military confrontation with Ukraine. Mr. Solovey was the source of the talks about the deterioration of Vladimir Putin’s health condition and later those talks were reproduced by numerous Russian and English-speaking Mass Media.
Previous parts of Mr. Solovey’s interview may be found here Part I and here Part II.
Kazakhstan in Crosshairs
— On several occasions, You would say that in the case of a successful Russian “blitzkrieg” in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, particularly its northern provinces, would be Russia’s next target. Who in Kremlin, would conceive such plans and is there now any theoretical probability that those plans shall become topical again?
— Within the framework of the Ukrainian Blitzkrieg there really were certain plans for Kazakhstan. But there is one specific nuance. Plan was not to deprive the Kazakh statehood from sovereign status and independence. The aim was to push Astana towards a much closer political and economic integration with the new state formation that was supposed to emerge in the case of the fast and staggering success of Russia in its armed confrontation with Ukraine.
The author of those plans is the Russian President himself. Those plans, by the way, were designed not just a couple of years ago, but were conceived starting from 2014, as a minimum. I am well aware of the fact that the former Kazakh President, Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev was very much startled in the course of his visit to Moscow, after the “Crimean Spring”. During that visit, Kremlin officials, with the “Bolshevik Straightforwardness” declared to him that “actually Kazakhstan received some authentic Russian lands in 1991”.
Why Did ODKB Troops Not Stay in Kazakhstan?
— According to information that You have, the ODKB troops, the core of which is constituted from Russian military detachments, were supposed to remain in Kazakhstan after the January events. And it was only the principled position of President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev that prevented that. What do You know about those life-determining events?
— For some time, I was convinced that it was President Tokayev’s firm position and China’s support that impelled Russia to withdraw the ODKB detachments from Kazakhstan. But later, I was explained that the reason was, most likely, different. Putin chose not to scatter forces and concentrate them in one direction – Ukraine. It was envisaged that after the “conquest of Kyiv in three days”, Kazakhstan, as an overripe fruit, would fall into Russian hands by itself. And not only Kazakhstan, by the way – those would be Armenia and Georgia. Belarus is not even to be discussed with this respect.
New Global Order Underway
— Conflict in Ukraine triggered geopolitical processes all over Eurasia. We are observing countless visits of leaders and top officials of various countries. What result will that shuttle diplomacy bring? May we say, that we are eyeing a new global order underway?
— We are seeing that the world is changing. Well, actually, the world has been under rather intensive transformation in the last 10 years. It is apparent, that aggregately all those changes will lead to the appearance of a qualitatively new system of international relations and a different structure of international security.
— How, do you think, that new structure/system, will look like? Which particular states will play important roles at the international level and in the center of the continent of Eurasia?
— I am not having a dig to judgement as to how future international security system will look like. But one thing is for sure – most likely, that new system shall be designed, codified and formatted through a series of treaties and international summits similar to the well-known Helsinki Conference. I will remind us, that it was the Helsinki Conference that in the 1970-s re-affirmed the post-war order in Europe and for many years kept the region in peace and stability.
When it happens, the same countries that influence the course of global geopolitics now, shall play important roles in the formation of the new system. Russia shall not remain out of those processes, that is for sure. But its influence shall weaken and its weight shall diminish, of course. But in general, Russia and other important players of nowadays shall remain key elements in the European system. As for the center of Eurasia, Moscow’s influence may weaken, contrary to that of China and Turkiye.
Russia-Kazakhstan Relations Will Develop on a New Platform
— What, in your vision, is Russia’s niche in the new global order? What relations will Russia build with Kazakhstan?
— Under conditions of the new global order, Russia will strive to strengthen its positions. But we must notice, that in doing so, Russia will use instruments other than armed force, because the armed force turned out to be a no-goer. So, those will be such traditional instruments, as diplomacy, economic policy, building up a system of unions. And, in general, I think, that strategy will be rather successful.
Despite everything, Russia does possess a good potential for the realistic and pragmatic policy, which potential may be brought to realization in future. That, amongst other things, is inclusive of a big potential of relations between Russia and Kazakhstan, because both the countries need each other.
It is possible, that Kazakhstan needs Russian balance versus Chinese and Turkish influence even more, than Russia needs Kazakhstan. In any case, both countries need the mutual cooperation.
The other thing is, that Moscow and Astana shall have a new platform for relations. I would say that that new platform will be a more respectful attitude shown by Kremlin in regards to the neighbors of Russia.