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Kazakhstan - 2022 Uprising

Protests engulfed Kazakhstan since the very first days of 2022, starting on 2 January in the country's southwestern regions due to a surge in gas prices that followed the government's announcement of a new pricing policy. As the prices skyrocketed, people took to the streets of the regions of Aktau and Zhanaozen, with demonstrations later spreading across the entire nation.

Residents of the cities of Zhanaozen and Aktau in Mangistau Oblast, an oil-producing region in western Kazakhstan, protested against the two-fold increase in LPG prices. A newly formed government commission said it was ready to lower these prices, but the protests spread to other cities. So, in Alma-Ata on January 4 and 5, clashes with security forces occurred, the police used gas and stun grenades. Throughout Kazakhstan, the Internet was turned off, and the broadcasting of a number of TV channels was temporarily stopped.

A "peacekeeping" force will be deployed for a ‘limited’ period of time to stabilize the situation in Kazakhstan, the chairman of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Nikol Pashinyan, announced 06 January 2022. “In response to the appeal by [President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev] and considering the threat to the national security and sovereignty of Kazakhstan, caused, among other things, by outside interference, the CSTO Collective Security Council decided to send the Collective Peacekeeping Forces to the Republic of Kazakhstan in accordance with Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty,” Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan said.

In accordance with the decision of the CSTO Collective Security Council, adopted on January 6, 2022, the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization were sent to the Republic of Kazakhstan for a limited time to stabilize and normalize the situation. The total number of CSTO peacekeeping personnel is some 3,600 troops. They included units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation [about 3,000 troops], the Republic of Belarus [500 troops from the 103rd Airborne Brigade], Republic of Tajikistan [about 200 troops] the Republic of Armenia [70 troops], the and the Kyrgyz Republic [committment unclear]. The main element was the 45th separate special-purpose brigade of the Airborne Troops, along with the Airborne Division of the 98th and the 31st Paratroopers Brigade.

A contingent of 70 IL-76 and five AN-124 transport aircraft had been delivering military personnel and equipment to CSTO forces “around the clock,” the Russian Defense ministry said, "The main tasks of the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the CSTO will be the protection of important state and military facilities, assistance to the forces of law and order of the Republic of Kazakhstan in stabilizing the situation and returning it to the legal field," the CSTO secretariat reported.

Tokayev appealed to Russia because he feared not all members of his security forces would remain loyal if the conflict escalated. In some smaller towns, police appeared to be sitting idly by, and in Aktobe, near the Russian border, police reportedly sided with protesters.

Although the situation in Kazakhstan was under control, the unrest would have more impacts: it destroyed the image of Kazakhstan as a stable country and proved to both Kazakhstan and regional countries that stability and security in the region was still fragile. Out of concern for security and political needs, countries in Central Asia may work toward closer relations with Russia.

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Page last modified: 10-01-2022 12:39:46 ZULU