Who “lost” Kazakhstan and to whom?
By Andrei/ the Saker (Good assessment of the outcomes for all players,)
Dear friends, Christ is born! Glorify Him!
The magnitude of the crisis in Kazakhstan has surprised many, including myself. Some compared what happened to the Euromaidan in Kiev, but that is a very bad comparison, if only because the Euromaidan happened on one square of one city whereas the violent insurrection (because that it was it was!) in Kazakhstan began in the western regions but quickly spread to the entire country (which is huge). Just by the sheer magnitude of the insurrection (about 20’000 well organized and trained combatants all over the county) and its extreme violence (cops had their heads cut off!), it was pretty obvious that this was not something spontaneous, but something carefully prepared, organized and then executed. The way the insurgents immediately attacked all TV stations and airports, while bigger mobs were trashing the streets and looting stores, shows a degree of sophistication Ed Luttwak would have approved of!
To me, this is much more similar to what happened in Syria in the cities of Daraa, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Damascus, and many more.
I will admit that my initial reaction also was “wow, how could the Kazakh and Russian intelligence services miss all the indicators and warnings that such a huge insurrection was carefully prepared and about to explode?”. Then came the news that President Tokaev appealed to The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which up until now was a rather flaccid organization and that very same evening Russia began an air bridge to move forces to Kazakhstan, including the subunits of the 45th Guards Separate Special Forces Brigade, 98th Guards Airborne Division and 31st Guards Airborne Assault Brigade. Russian military transporters also airlifted small contingents of Armenian, Kyrgyz, Tadjik special forces. Most interestingly, the Belarusians also sent one reinforced company from their elite 103rd Separate Guards Airborne Brigade (that is the famous Vitebsk Airborne Division, one of the best Soviet Airborne Divisions). Considering the current tensions with the West over the Ukraine, the speed with which these forces were sent to Kazakhstan indicated to me that this was clearly a prepared move.
In other words, at least the Russians had advanced warning and were fully prepared. If so, I doubt they said anything to their colleagues from the CSTO, with the possible (likely?) exception of the Belarusians.
Okay, so let’s explore the implications of the above.
If the Russians knew, why did they do nothing at all to prevent what just happened?
Here we first need to revisit what recently happened in Belarus.
President Lukashenko had pretty much the same foreign policy as President Tokaev: something they call a “multi-vector” foreign policy which I would summarize as follows: pump all the aid and money from Russia, while suppressing pro-Russian forces inside your own country and try to show the AngloZionist Empire that we can be bought, just for the right price of course (this is also what Vucic is doing in Serbia right now). Now let’s recall what happened in Belarus.
The Empire and its vassal states in the EU tried to overthrow Lukashenko who had no other choice than to turn to Russia for help and survival. Russia, of course, did oblige, but only in exchange for Lukashenko’s “good behavior” and comprehensive abandonment of his “multi-vector” foreign policy. Lukashenko prevailed, the opposition was crushed, and Russia and Belarus have already taken major further steps towards their integration.
Now I know that there are those out there who love to accuse Putin (personally) that he “showed weakness”, “let the US and NATO blow up countries on the Russian periphery”, etc. etc. etc. To those inclined to this, I ask a simple question: compare the Belarus before the insurrection and after. Specifically, from the Russian point of view, was the multi-vectoring Belarus preferable to the fully aligned Belarus of today or not? The answer, I submit, is absolutely obvious.
Now let’s look at Kazakhstan. Potentially, this is a much more dangerous country for Russia than Belarus: it has a huge border (7’600km, open and undefended as Kazakhstan is a member of the Eurasian Economic Community!), a strong pan-Turkic underground (supported by Turkey), an equally strong Takfiri underground (supported by various non-state and even state actors in the region), ethnic tensions between the Kazakhs and the Russian minority and very important security ties to Russia. To have the Empire take over Belarus would have been very bad indeed, but the Empire taking over Kazakhstan would have been even much worse.
Yet, as a direct (and, I submit, predictable) consequence of the insurrection, Tokaev now knows that his fate depends on Russia, just like Lukashenko’s. Is that a bad or a good outcome for the Kremlin?
I will toss in another name here: Armenia’s Pashinian, who was a notorious russophobe until the Azeris attacked at which point he had no other choice but to turn to Russia for help and, frankly, survival. That is also true of Erdogan, but he is an ungrateful SOB who can’t ever be trusted, not even for minor matters.
Now remember all those dummies who were screaming urbi et orbi that the CSTO is useless, that the Russians just let the Azeris beat the crap of Armenia and could do nothing about it? As soon as Russia got involved, the war stopped and the “invincible” Bayraktars stopped flying. Is that a good or bad outcome for Russia?
And now, oh sweet irony, the self-same Pashinian happens to be the formal head of the CSTO (more like Stoltenberg really, a official mouthpiece with no real authority) and he had to “order” (announce, really) the CSTO operation into Kazakhstan.
So we have Lukashenko, Pashinian and now Tokaev all ex-multi-vector politicians begging Russia for help and getting that help, but at the obvious political price of ditching their former multi-vector policies.
I don’t know about you, but for me this is a triumph for Russia: without any military intervention or “invasion” (what the TV watching infantiles in the West scare themselves with at night), Putin “cracked” three notorious multi-vectorist and got them to be nice, loyal and very grateful (!) partners for Russia. By the way, Russia also has a very deep “penetration” into all the other “stans” whose leaders are not stupid and who, unlike the western journos and “experts” all read the writing on the wall. The impact of what just took place in Kazakhstan will reverberate all over Central Asia.
About the CSTO operation itself. First, the Russian and Belarusian forces (about 3’000 Russians and 500 Belarusians): they are truly elite, top of the line, battle hardened, professional, highly trained and superbly equipped forces (the other smaller contingents are more for “PR decoration” than for anything else). Officially, their mission is only to protect key official (Kazakh and Russian) facilities but these forces would be more than enough to make minced meat of out any western or Turkish trained Takfiris or nationalists, even if their numbers are much higher than the 20’000 estimate. And, in the worst case, these forces happen to be in control of key airports were Russians (and Belarusians) could send in even more forces, including at least two Russian airborne divisions. That would be a force nothing in Central Asia can even dream of taking on. I should also mention that Russia has a large and strategically crucial military base in Tadjikistan which has trained to fight against Takfiri terrorists and insurgents for decades now and which could also support any Russian military operation in Central Asia.
So the objective of these forces are:
To free up Kazakh security and military forces to put down the uprising (which they are doing)
To send a political message to the Kazakh security forces: we got your back, no worries, do your job.
To send a political message to the insurgents: you will either lay down arms, flee abroad or die (which is what Putin ordered in both Chechnia and Syria, so these are not empty threats at all).
To send a political message to the US and Turkey: Tokaev is our guy now, you lost him and this country!
To send a political message to the entire Central Asia and Caucasus: if Russia has your back, you will stay in power even if the idiots at CIA/NED/etc. try to color-revolutionize you.
To send yet another message to folks like Erdogan or Vucic – all that multi-vectorness will end up very badly for you, use your head before it is too late (for you, not for us – we are fine either way!).
Some have suggested that the timing of the insurrection Kazakhstan was some kind of attempt by US/NATO to “hurt” Russia in her “weak underbelly” and to show Russia that she has to back down from her ultimatum to the West (negotiations are supposed to start tomorrow, in an atmosphere of general pessimism). Well, I don’t have any info out of Langley or Mons, but if that was the US plan, then this entire project not only collapsed, but has backfired very very badly indeed.
Remember, the PSYOP narrative was that Putin is either stupid, or weak or sold out to the West, yet when we look at the “before and after” thingie, we see that while the West “almost” (or so they think) “got” Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and, now, Kazakhstan, the reality is that in each case it appears that the narcissistic megalomaniacs running the West have confidently waltzed into a carefully laid Russian trap which, far from giving the Empire the control of the countries it “almost” acquired, made them lose them for the foreseeable future.
Can you imagine the level of impotent rage and frustration in Langley and Mons when the watch that kind of footage: oy veh!!