Kazakhstan has asked the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to send forces as peaceful protests over fuel prices in the country escalate into an unprecedented wave of violence that has claimed dozens of lives. The decision to send such a contingent was the first in the history of this bloc.
Russia often presents the CSTO as a counterpart to NATO, but in the past the organization has avoided interfering in the unrest in Central Asia, which has historically had close ties with Moscow.
Russia’s defense ministry said the “collective peacekeeping force … was preparing to load equipment and supplies into Russian aerospace military transport aircraft and return to permanent locations.”
Kazakh President Kassim-Yomart Tokayev said the unrest in the country was an attempt to carry out a coup with the help of local and international “terrorists”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his part, hinted that events in Kazakhstan were reminiscent of “color revolutions”, he said, sparked by foreign interference.
Tokayev said the gradual withdrawal of foreign forces would take no more than 10 days.
It was feared that Moscow could use the mission as a means of increasing its influence in Kazakhstan.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously warned that “if Russians show up at your home, it is sometimes very difficult to get them out.”
Although Kazakh authorities have claimed that the country’s violence was fueled by foreign “terrorists”, it broke out in the wake of peaceful demonstrations over the sharp rise in the price of liquefied petroleum gas, as well as deteriorating living standards and rampant corruption.