Top Official Says Kazakhstan Won't Help Russia Evade Western Sanctions
By RFE/RL April 01, 2022
Kazakhstan will not help Russia to evade Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, a top Kazakh official has said.
In an interview with Euractiv news, however, Timur Suleimenov, the deputy chief of the Kazakh presidential office, said Kazakhstan will continue its economic ties with Russia within the Eurasian Economic Union.
Kazakhstan "will continue to invest in Russia and attract investment for Russia: there is no way for our economy to do it differently," he said. "But we will do our best to control the sanctioned goods.
"We will do our best to control any investment from a sanctioned person or entity in Kazakhstan, and this is something we wanted to convey to Europeans openly," Suleimenov said in the March 29 interview.
He said Kazakh authorities were working to change laws to make it possible to cooperate with Russia without violating sanctions.
Kazakhstan is one of Russia's largest trading partners, and the two countries share a 7,600-kilometer border.
Kazakhstan's government watched warily as Russia first annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and fomented a war in the eastern Donbas. And the government has reportedly been even more concerned about the new invasion of Ukraine, though Kazakh officials have voiced little public criticism.
"Kazakhstan respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine," Suleimenov was quoted as saying, adding that Astana "did not recognize and will not recognize" the Crimean annexation, nor the independence of the two separatist-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine.
"Kazakhstan is not part of this conflict. Yes, we are part of the Eurasian Economic Union but we are an independent state with our own system, and we will abide by the restrictions imposed on Russia and Belarus. We don't want and will not risk being placed in the same basket," Suleimenov said.
The Eurasian Economic Union is a trading bloc dominated by Russia, and includes Belarus, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan, as well as Kazakhstan. The grouping was conceived by Moscow as a counterweight to the European Union, though experts view it as being mainly a way for Moscow to exert economic leverage over the other countries.
With reporting Euractiv and KazTAG
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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