The presence of Moscow-led military alliance’s troops in Kazakhstan to help quell mounting unrest in this former Soviet republic has provided Russia with an opportunity to showcase its growing influence in its ‘near abroad’ and perhaps beyond in an effective manner, although these troops are not involved in quelling violence as they are said to be only guarding the Almaty airport. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had appealed to the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), which includes five other ex-Soviet states, to combat what he has called “terrorist groups” that had “received extensive training abroad”. The situation is profoundly grim in Kazakhstan where a large number of people, including security personnel, have been killed and injured during violence which was ostensibly caused by massive public protests against rising energy prices and “bad” governance. Moscow, in my view, needs to work out a solution to this grave situation by reaching out to the protesters as well. Russia, in particular, must help normalize the situation as the Kazakh unrest also constitutes a warning for other ex-Soviet autocrats.
Rahman Malik (Lahore)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021