In the case of a possible invasion of Kazakhstan, Russia shall not enter its North. The West of the Republic is far more interesting to the pugnacious neighbor, some foreign Mass Media reported last week. Where do such suppositions come from and how are they substantiated? Below is our attempt to look into it.
Cold and Stagnation
Following the recent annexation of Ukrainian territories, discussions came out in cyberspace as to whether Russia will do the same in relation to Kazakhstan.
In analyzing the situation, the Eurasia Review magazine addressed the topical question to a Kazakh political observer Akhas Tazhutov. The expert expressed the opinion that it would be erroneous to suppose that Russia will pursue the “enslavement” of the northern territories of Kazakhstan if Russia at all expressed a wish to invade our Republic. Although that opinion confronts one of the main narratives that the North of Kazakhstan is densely populated by Russian nationals.
Question – what will Russia acquire if it annexes North? “Stagnating regions together with the aging population” – says the Kazakh expert and makes reference to an interview given one year ago by Andrey Grozin, Head of Central Asia and Kazakhstan Section of the CIS Institute, Russia.
Source — Ukraina.ru, where that article is. Below extract from Grozin’s interview:
“ Ukraine and all that stupid hassle of theirs are not nice, but you can live with it. As for Kazakhstan, a country ruled by enemies of Russia, or not ruled at all (that second option is the worst-case scenario) – that is something unthinkable. In that case, we will have to not only deploy peace-makers there but a full-fledged expeditionary force to take control over key logistical hubs, for us to have a beachhead towards the South. In the case of the opposite, we are totally scr…..d, excuse my vulgar language “ – said Grozin in the course of that interview.
Given the above, Tazhutov concludes that the most beneficial for Russia would be the way straight into the West of Kazakhstan.
A Gateway to Europe?
As the observer highlights, the Atyrau, Mangistau and West Kazakhstan provinces are the major logistical hubs and territories with abundant oil and gas reserves. Produced riches are actively exported to Europe, and there, there are the operations of the major Western companies, including Chevron, Eni, BG Group, BP/Statoil, Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, and TotalEnergies.
Such big fields as Tengiz, Kashagan, and Karachaganak are managed by foreign petroleum companies. Those fields give 80% of the total oil production and oil is directed to the European Union. And while in the past, Kremlin would keep its eyes closed on that cooperation, now it is watching it carefully, as the Kremlin no longer is capable to ship oil and gas abroad in the same volumes, as in the past.
The Kazakh expert communicates that Russia while looking at the West of Kazakhstan, is not very much happy about its own role as a “pipeline”, which is now under sanctions of the West but still allows Kazakhstan to do business with the European Union. That consideration may motivate Russia to have a more “considerate look” on Western Kazakhstan. Because if Russia takes control of these lands, the whole Western world will have to put up with the aggressor, even despite the wars it ignited.
Tazhutov’s suppositions are, of course, interesting, but the question is, under what particular circumstances those suppositions would come true?
Dmitro Gordon, a Ukrainian journalist envisages only one option for that plan to get implemented. During one of his recent live streams, he suggested that Russia could assault Kazakhstan only should Ukraine promptly acknowledge its defeat. But now, that Russia has mobilized all forces for the war, it does not have the time and resources to dedicate itself to Kazakhstan.
What are other views on the subject?
Considering the moods, every now and then expressed by Russian public persons, of small wonder is the fact that post-Soviet countries had to brainstorm about their own territorial integrity.
Political observer Victor Kovtunovsky says that Russia has “unformulated demands to Kazakhstan”, and some such demands were earlier addressed to Ukraine.
“ I really do not see a big difference between grievances addressed to Ukraine and the ones that may be imposed on Kazakhstan. The assault may begin under the justification of “protection of the Russian population” or “protection of the Russian language” and others. You can substitute “Donbas” with “Northern Kazakhstan”, “Banderovites” with “Basmachi” and that is the full analogy “ – says Kovtunovsky.
Besides, according to Kovtunovsky, there is nothing definitive we can anticipate from the northern neighbor, because its public persons often “swap rhetoric poles”, referring to the times of the USSR, or the times of the Russian Tzarist Empire.
Kazakhstan’s Cahoots will Cover
Andrey Chebotaryov, Director of Topical Observation Center “Alternative” thinks that for Russia it does not appear fully beneficial to attack Kazakhstan, because under present conditions our country is Russia’s one “predictable and beneficial partner”. In recent years, the two countries signed numerous agreements in various spheres.
At the same time, as the expert says, Russian Mass Media will not stop that stream of unfriendly statements broadcasting the anti-Kazakh agenda. Such statements are even made by members of the Moscow City Duma (parliament) — and which is an institution of Russian statehood. At the same time, Russian top-ranking officials assure that all messages that trouble Kazakhstan do not reflect the official position of the Kremlin. Clear is the fact that such contradictions do not add confidence in our strategic partner. And it appears that for Russia it is not fully beneficial to put Kazakhstan on the list of enemies of Russia. Russian governmental Mass Media spend many resources and strength to confront the USA, for example. And if Russia chooses to deploy real armed forces to colonize Kazakhstan, it may anticipate an additional hostile impact from the exterior world.
“ Implementation of the Ukrainian scenario in Kazakhstan shall inevitably result in the clash of interests of Russia and China. In such a case, we should expect that China will assess the Russian attack as a threat to both its assets in Kazakhstan and its own homeland security. It is complicated to guess where that might lead. For Russia now it would be, on the contrary, most favorable to get closer to China as much as possible – so far, as to establish allied relationships. Another round of complication of relations between China and the USA over Taiwan works in favor of Russia, in this particular situation. Russia is also interested in the development and strengthening of BRICS and SCO, in which organizations China plays a key role”, – Chebotaryov communicates.
However, some other experts think that the only thing to insure Kazakhstan from verbal and other attacks on its independence is Russia’s defeat in the war with Ukraine and the resignation of Putin. Only after that, will we be in the position to discuss the construction of a democratic country.