More than two thousand contingent of ODKB forces from Russia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Belarus, came to Kazakhstan at the request of Tokayev in order to stabilize the situation in the country in connection with the protests and anti-government riots. Authorities say there has been an attempted coup in the country. Tokayev said the forces should leave Kazakhstan completely within 10 days. “The main task of the ODKB peacekeeping forces has been accomplished” – quotes the head of state, the RIA Novosti agency, which is referred to by PAP, estimates that the situation has been stabilized in all regions of the country.
The president reiterated on Tuesday that an attempt was made to carry out an attack in the country and that the National Security Committee had not foreseen the threat. The head of this structure, Kasym Masymov, has been released and is suspected of high treason. Tokayev appointed 49-year-old Alikhan Smilov as prime minister, previously deputy prime minister and acting head of government on 5 January. The previous cabinet was dismissed on 5 January due to protests in the country.
Protests in Kazakhstan broke out on January 2 and were initially related to a double increase in LPG prices, but over time they expanded and acquired a political character. Massive robberies, acts of aggression and vandalism have occurred in Almaty and other cities in the south of the country. Authorities announced that there had been a coup attempt led by “armed fighters”, including involving religious extremists.
Kazakhstan’s interior ministry said on Tuesday that 9.9 thousand people have already been detained. people. Over 160 people died in the riots.
The announcement issued by the Kazakh authorities about the withdrawal of the so-called “Peacekeepers” should be treated with some reserve. The core of the contingent that has been deployed are the Russian Airborne Forces (VDF), and logistical support and transport for the allied forces is also provided by Russia. If Moscow deems its interests to be secured, it may begin the process of withdrawing the contingent.
However, the fact that certain troop transfers will take place does not necessarily mean a full withdrawal of the Russian contingent. Some of the soldiers may – formally – remain, for example, as “enhanced protection of the Baikonur cosmodrome”. It should also be noted that the outbreak of the riots was a surprise for all observers of the political scene, and the transfer of troops took place in an emergency mode. In fact, however, the main burden of suppressing the protests was borne by Kazakh units, and the presence of OKDB forces was aimed at reacting to developments and demonstrating (also to the Kazakh services) determination to defend Russia’s interests, rather than directly participating in actions against the protesters (which could additionally antagonize the towards Russia).
It therefore seems that a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Kazakhstan is a fairly likely scenario, although of course it may turn out that Moscow will not agree to it. On the other hand, as the current situation has shown, if necessary, “airborne peacekeepers” can very quickly return to the territory of this country.