View Full Version : Kazakhstan

09-18-2007, 06:33 PM
Moderator's Note for new thread

This large, sparsely populated and resource rich former Soviet nation has not had its own thread - unlike the other 'stans. Creation was prompted by Azor's recent question on another thread - which will be copied here soon. A review is underway to move easily found posts on Kazakhstan to this thread; the word does appear in approx. thirty threads. So this post will not appear at the top for long!

There is a seperate, currently closed thread from 2012 on the then renewed 'great power' competition in Central Asia: The New 'Great Game': state & non-state competition (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=778)
Link:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=778 (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=778)

The Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor, 18 Sep 07:

Kazakhstan's Cadets Prefer Belarus to America (http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2372430)

Kazakhstan has strengthened its security ties with Washington since 9/11 in order to maximize the numbers of officers from Kazakhstan’s armed forces who receive military training and education in the United States. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Defense has used this as an engagement tool to develop further the existing bilateral military assistance relationship. Pentagon analysts and U.S. diplomats in Kazakhstan have argued that programs such as International Military Education and Training (IMET) (http://www.dsca.osd.mil/home/international_military_education_training.htm) have yielded a good return on the investment of U.S. money into the military structures of Kazakhstan.....

....The statistics are alarming; recent reporting observed that out of 250 officers who received an education in the United States, 110 have already quit the military, citing “various reasons.” Despite a contractual obligation placed on graduates of foreign universities to serve a minimum of 10 years, many are finding loopholes in order to exit early. There is little will to enforce these commitments on the part of officials. Kazakh military servicemen attend courses in 160 specialist fields at 55 foreign universities. Around 550 people are sent abroad for education annually. Of these, 300 are servicemen being sent for full-time education, and 250 are officers sent for short-term courses. Approximately one-third of the graduates of foreign courses enter into the service ranks of the armed forces in Kazakhstan. Although retention is significantly higher in the cases of high-ranking officers attending short-term courses abroad, the real problem exists within the junior and middle-ranking officers; here the hemorrhaging appears greatest.....

02-20-2009, 01:08 PM
SSI, 11 Feb 09: Kazakhstan's Defense Policy: An Assessment of the Trends (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/download.cfm?q=904)

The U.S. war on terrorism, with its deployment of military assets within Central Asia in support of ongoing antiterrorist operations in Afghanistan, ensures the long-term strategic importance of Central Asia in U.S. policy planning. Kazakhstan, with its vast hydrocarbon reserves combined with its high profile support for the war on terrorism, will play a key part in these calculations. As Kazakhstan has developed the capabilities of its armed forces, with American and allied assistance, questions arise over how in the future it may play a more active part either in antiterrorist or in peace support operations. Kazakhstan is also exploring such issues in the context of its forthcoming chairmanship of the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe in 2010, which may indicate that Astana would like to raise its international security profile further still.

In this monograph, the author argues that Kazakhstan’s armed forces, though subject to many structural changes, have not yet experienced systemic military reform. He assesses the achievements and setbacks of U.S. and NATO defense assistance to the country, while also showing that Kazakhstan remains deeply linked in close defense and security partnership with Russia. He suggests greater sophistication and follow-up is needed from Western assistance programs to ensure that Kazakhstan successfully gains genuine military capabilities and the type of armed forces it needs within the region.....

SWJ Blog
05-07-2012, 10:13 AM
Violence and Videos in Kazakhstan: The Information Struggle over Zhanaozen (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/violence-and-videos-in-kazakhstan-the-information-struggle-over-zhanaozen)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/violence-and-videos-in-kazakhstan-the-information-struggle-over-zhanaozen) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
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09-24-2012, 12:04 PM
A pair of China-based analysts on a trek around Central Asia report:http://raffaellopantucci.com/2012/09/24/chinatown-kazakhstan/

If you check the author's website there are a series of articles on the region.

01-07-2016, 07:14 AM
Putin's Next Potential Target: The Baltic States Highly improbable. This is from the same Atlantic Council that is desperate for trans-Atlantic closeness, irrespective of differing US and Western European public opinion, and irrespective of the lack of Western (Continental) European contribution to NATO, which is now a US tripwire plus nuclear umbrella.

Putin has carefully chosen targets where he would find some degree of popular support due to various ties, and targets not protected by other great powers.

I guarantee you the Baltics are safe. The less conventional response NATO has there, the more NATO will rely upon nuclear deterrence. Narva isn't worth the gamble when Obama has no "flexible options".

Putin will strike next in Central Asia, if at all. Any country with a significant Russian minority contiguous to the Russian border is at risk. China has a vote, but it wants stability above all, and has its own irridentist claims on Taiwan.

Honestly, what will the EU do if northern Kazakhstan "secedes"?

01-07-2016, 05:20 PM
Cited in part:
Honestly, what will the EU do if northern Kazakhstan "secedes"?

Nothing beyond a diplomatic statement. The EU has enough to "do" closer to home and shows little inclination to be effective in Central Asia. The Baltic states are different.

I am not sure there is such a place as 'Northern Kazakhstan' and having consulted Wikipedia I noted these facts:
In 1989, ethnic Russians were 37.8% of the population and Kazakhs held a majority in only 7 of the 20 regions of the country.

In the 1999 Census there were 4,480,675 Russians (29.9% pop) and in 2009 3,793,764 (23.7% pop).Link:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazakhstan

01-08-2016, 01:27 AM
Hence the small "n" northern. The settlement areas of the ethnic Russians in northern Kazakhstan are roughly contiguous with the Russian border, rendering a Donbass-style porous border scenario quite feasible. Russians as a % of the population have continued to fall considerably, primarily due to emigration to Russia or beyond. Nevertheless, if Putin wants to add to his population, I see no more tempting a target.

I can see the Kremlin targeting the Baltics with rhetoric, lawfare and cyberwarfare, in order to divert Western attention, and then swooping in on Kazakhstan instead. Astana has recently made some movements in the direction of China and towards banning the Russian NGOs which keep the diaspora connected to the Kremlin's echochamber.

Nazarbayev is 75 and it is unclear who his successor may be. He comes across as more of a Jaruzelski than a Walesa, which may stay the little green men until he dies, but what then?

01-08-2016, 08:19 AM
Moderator's Note

This large, sparsely populated and resource rich former Soviet nation has not had its own thread - unlike the other 'stans. Creation was prompted by Azor's recent question on another thread - which will be copied here soon. A review is underway to move easily found posts on Kazakhstan to this thread; the word does appear in approx. thirty threads. So this post will not appear at the top for long!

There is a seperate, currently closed thread from 2012 on the then renewed 'great power' competition in Central Asia: The New 'Great Game': state & non-state competition (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=778)

01-08-2016, 07:34 PM
Nazarbayev Blocks Russian TV in Kazakhstan (http://www.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=44943&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=381&cHash=db1620f38aa30325ed9cc3502a6d30db#.VpAOpflVhB c)

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 2January 5, 2016 05:50 PM Age: 2 days
By: Paul Goble

In slightly over a generation, Kazakhstan has gone from being a republic in which ethnic Russians formed a plurality, to one in which ethnic Kazakhs form a two-thirds majority. But to keep that country within Russia’s orbit, Moscow still counts on the fact that most urban Kazakhs speak Russian rather than Kazakh. Nonetheless, linguistic patterns in Kazakhstan are changing: Ever more Kazakhs are speaking their native tongue as well as foreign languages other than Russian. And ever more ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan are left with the choice of learning the national language or emigrating to Russia. Together, those linguistic and demographic shifts are changing Astana’s political and geopolitical position.

A new Kazakhstani law, which went into effect on January 1, 2016, has thrown these changes into sharp relief. Nominally intended to protect domestic advertisers, the measure has the effect of banning Russian (and the few other non-Kazakhstani) channels from cable networks in the country. Such channels could meet the law’s requirements by editing out all advertising. But doing so would mean that the owners would lose some or all of their profits and would need subsidies from Moscow to continue, subsidies that—in the current economic environment—the Russian government may not be able or willing to give (Asiarussia.ru, December 27, 2015).

About 75 percent of Kazakhstan’s population, including virtually all ethnic Russians and a majority of urban Kazakhs, watch Russian-language television. Therefore, the end of these broadcasts will inevitably lead some to focus on Kazakh-language programming instead. And because this reflects President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s long-standing commitment to advance the use of the national language in Kazakhstan, most citizens of this Central Asian republic will view the new law as an indication of how they should behave.

Kazakhstani political analyst Avdos Sarym, who has examined this situation, says that steps like this mean that in another decade, anyone who wants to advance in Kazakhstan will have to speak both Kazakh and Russian, rather than assume he or she can behave as in Soviet times and manage with the Russian language alone. Such a mental shift will deprive President Vladimir Putin of yet another segment of what he defines as “the Russian world” (Matritca.kz, November 28, 2015).

Most ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan even now speak only Russian, Sarym points out. If they know a second language, it is far more likely to be English than Kazakh. But “the absolute majority of Kazakhs speak both Kazakh and Russian, and an increasing share of the young speak English and Turkish. That general pattern, however, obscures the fact that the Russian-speaking segment of the population, which includes both Russians and Ukrainians, has split over the war in Ukraine and does not form “one and the same social and political stratum” in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan’s Ukrainians and Russians have no “common values and markers,” although they may have “common fears,” Sarym argues (Matritca.kz, November 28, 2015).

“The main problem” in Kazakhstan today, he continues, is that Kazakhstani society “does not have even one idea commonly recognized by the majority. In essence, today, we have two ideas, which only rarely intersect, one of which [the Soviet Russian] is declining in size while the other [the Kazakh] is unceasingly growing.” The situation is changing rapidly in favor of the latter, Sarym says; the country will eventually be “Kazakh and Kazakh-speaking.” And “it would be good if this Kazakh and Kazakh-speaking society mastered as well not only Russian but also English, Turkish, Chinese and other languages” (Matritca.kz, November 28, 2015).

That increasingly presents special challenges to those who, today, speak only Russian. “It is no secret,” he continues, “that many of our fellow citizens still think Kazakhs are limited and that the possibilities of the Kazakh language and education are limited as well.” But that is simply wrong, although it is, in fact, sustained by the current educational system. “If the current system of ignoring the Kazakh language in the school is retained, then in a short time, Russian and Slavic youth will have a choice: to be uncompetitive in the labor market in Kazakhstan or to be ready to migrate.”

The shifting balance between Russian and Kazakh is already being registered in those businesses that depend on people aged 20 to 45. In that age group, Kazakh speakers predominate, and in younger cohorts, they are even more dominant. Almost 80 percent of those entering school now are ethnic Kazakhs, and they are the future customers and investors. Today, the average age of ethnic Kazakhs in Kazakhstan is 26–27; that of the Slavic residents of the country—46–47. Kazakh may not be the language of all the business community now, but it soon will be.

Another trend that matters, Sarym says, is that Kazakhs, historically a rural population—in 1986, only 3 percent of the residents of Almaty were Kazakh—are moving into the cities. In the past, that meant Sovietization and Russification, but in the future, it will surely become the basis for the formation of an urban Kazakh identity. Kazakhstani cities have not yet become “Kazakh-friendly.” But if they do not become this soon, Sarym argues, there could be “collisions and problems”—not so much for the Kazakhs who, as a result of their numbers, will simply overwhelm the cities, but for the others who will find themselves embattled minorities waiting to leave.

01-08-2016, 08:55 PM

Great catch. This is one of three truly useful posts today. Excellent context that explains much of the context for possible Russian action in Kazakhstan.

01-08-2016, 10:36 PM

Great catch. This is one of three truly useful posts today. Excellent context that explains much of the context for possible Russian action in Kazakhstan.
My thinking is that any future Russian incursion will "surprise" the West, but not actually deviate from Putin's past adventures in Georgia and now the Ukraine:

1. The target will be in Russia's "sphere of influence", "backyard" or "near abroad"

2. The target's population will contain a substantial minority or majority of ethnic Russians or pro-Russians (Abkhazians and Ossetians being Caucasian/Iranic people)

3. The target will be start tracking toward the West or otherwise away from Russia's orbit

4. The target will have both military and economic importance to Russia at the strategic level

5. The target will not be protected by a mutual defense treaty or any other explicit military alliance

Two targets meet these criteria: Belarus and Kazakhstan.

05-13-2016, 09:12 PM
Land ownership remains a critical political issue, even more so when it is the Chinese who are expanding their land ownership in CEntral Asian states. The article starts with:
One topic guaranteed to inflame passions in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan is land and China. China has taken land from Central Asia and farmers from China are already working rented fields in Central Asia and that has not sat well with locals. It's playing a role in the recent widespread protests in Kazakhstan. Personally I'm inclined to agree with those who see Kazakhstan as a simmering pot at the moment. There are many issues right now that are causing discontent in Kazakhstan.

05-31-2016, 09:20 PM
See here: http://golosislama.com/news.php?id=29722

Last year, I pointed out that Putin was more likely to invade Belarus or Kazakhstan, rather than any of the Baltic states, which are NATO members. My argument was that northern Kazakhstan would offer Russia millions of ethnic Russians as well as natural resources, particularly lower cost oil and gas (currently Kazakhstan occupies the production ranking Libya did prior to its civil war), whereas the Baltics offer possible Armageddon and little else.

Now that protests are breaking out in Kazakhstan, Kazakhs are worried that the Kremlin will take advantage of the situation. Already, Astana has clamped down harder on Russian language use and Russian NGOs than the post-Yanukovych government in Kiev ever intended to...

06-15-2016, 12:07 PM
Thanks to a "lurker" for a pointer to a recent ISIS attack in Kazakhstan, on June 5th 2016, which I had not spotted.

From the first, very limited news story found:
Kazakh security forces detained three men on Sunday suspected of being Islamist militants linked to deadly attacks a week earlier in the city of Akrobe, the National Security Committee said. Everyone linked to the June 5 attacks had now been detained or neutralised, it added, without going into further detail. At least 25 people including 18 attackers died during the assaults on a national guard base and firearms shops, and in the subsequent manhunt.

More details on the next two links and note:
...Aktobe, which is about 100 km (60 miles) from the Russian border...Link:http://thewire.in/2016/06/09/kazakhstan-suspect-in-national-guard-base-shooting-posted-isis-linked-video-41820/


07-18-2016, 06:31 PM
From the BBC:
A gunman who killed three policemen and a member of the public in Kazakhstan on Monday may have been an Islamist militant, the president has said.....Suspect Ruslan Kulikbayev, 26, became close to Salafists - ultra-conservative Muslims - when serving a prison sentence, security officials said.Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-36823422

03-06-2018, 12:49 PM
Spotted via Twitter:
Kazakhstan’s government is launching an ambitious strategy to combat religious extremist movements that have posed an imminent threat to the national security and are aimed at radicalizing and recruiting Kazakhstani youth into the ranks of international terrorist groups...Today, more than 600 Kazakhstanis are estimated to be participating in terrorist efforts (abroad).Link:https://caspiannews.com/news-detail/astana-earmarks-900-million-to-anti-counter-terrorism-programs-2018-2-20-40/

03-26-2019, 12:31 PM
An IISS blog comment on the apparent exit of President Nazarbayev announced a week ago, he has been in power since 1989, but it is clear his exit is heavily qualified:
The transition has been carefully coordinated to allow Nazarbayev to retain influence on the political system and to ensure that the interests of his family are protected. As prescribed in the constitution, a new interim president – Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the former chairman of the senate and a trusted ally of the president – will serve out the remainder of Nazarbayev’s current term in office. In July last year, parliament gave Nazarbayev the right to head the national security council for life and upgraded the status of the body from consultative to constitutional. Nazarbayev remains the leader of the Nur Otan Party, which controls the legislature.

The BBC News story:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-47628854

03-27-2019, 08:26 AM
A slightly different commentary:https://thesoufancenter.org/intelbrief-geopolitical-implications-of-the-political-transition-in-kazakhstan/