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On Tuesday Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced that Russian peacekeeping forces which began entering the restive country late last week will initiate departure in merely two days.

“The main mission of the CSTO peacekeeping forces has been successfully completed,” Tokayev informed Kazakhstan’s parliament. “In two days’ time, a phased withdrawal of the CSTO united peacekeeping contingent will begin. The withdrawal process of the contingent will take no more than 10 days,” he added. 

Russian troops at Almaty’s airport, via FT.

Currently an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 Russian troops are in the country which shares a lengthy border with the Russian Federation, on a security mission to help restore order after a week of deadly rioting and clashes with Kazakh police, after last week the regional Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) authorized the mission. International sources indicated the Russians sent about 250 pieces of military hardware as well. Belarusian troops and other smaller contingents of CSTO forces were also part of the mission.

The United States later in the day said it “welcomed” the announcement, via the news wires:


According to the AFP, the Kazakh leader announced the rapid Russian withdrawal while also delivering a message of reform, reining in inflation and a vow to boost wages. He also charged his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev with creating a “caste of wealthy elite” which has been greedily draining the national economy, leading to crises like the fuel price hike which initially triggered the protests, which Tokayev further blamed on external forces intent on destabilizing his rule.

Following the weekend arrest of his top national security chief, Karim Masimov, Tokayev explained that Russian help was needed given that “In some cities, heads of National Security Committee departments, despite having sufficient combat arsenals, abandoned (their buildings) and left behind firearms and classified documents,” according to The Hill

The relative short-lived nature of the Russian mission in Kazakhstan is sure to be greeted with some level of surprise in the West, given Moscow has been routinely accused of seeking permanent expansion in neighboring former Soviet satellite states. 

It was only last Friday that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said of the Russian deployment to Kazakhstan: “I think one lesson in recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.”

As we noted at the time, that statement was immediately subject of widespread mockery and sarcasm, for the obvious reasons given it was a mere months ago that the world witnessed the botched, deadly, and chaotic events of America’s Afghan exit – after two long decades of war, not to mention the seeming endless occupation of Iraq, and more recently Syria too. A number of online commentators also noted of Blinken’s comment that the charge is coming from the country with some 800 military bases worldwide. 


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