The world news is uniformly vague about what constitutes the opposition and who the insurgents are. Much is made of the word nationalist but no information is available about the role of pro-Western, pan-Turkic and Islamist factions, for example. The government Kazinform news site has been offline all day.
Trend News Agency: CSTO sends its peacekeepers to Kazakhstan
Deutsche Welle: Kazakhstan president confirms takeover of Almaty airport
Belarusian Telegraph Agency: MFA: Belarus is concerned over developments in Kazakhstan
Background on crisis in Kazakhstan
Whatever the nature of the steadily mounting conflict in Kazakhstan, whether it was initially and remains motivated by rising gasoline prices as in France with the emergence of the Yellow Vest movement three years ago, or whether it has been or is developing into something more political – and geopolitical – will become more clear in the ensuing days.
Irrespective of the nature and course of the situation, this background information is worth recalling.
Kazakhstan is one of three nations bordering both Russia and China, far the most strategically vital one at that. (The others are Mongolia and North Korea.)
It is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Eurasian Economic Union, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the recently-renamed Organization of Turkic States as well as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. It also was among the first former Soviet states to join a NATO partnership program, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, in 1992, which was replaced by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council/Partnership for Peace in 1997, Kazakhstan remaining a member in the new structure. In 2006 it became the first non-European nation to sign an Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO.
It borders three of the other four former Soviet Central Asian republics: Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. There were uprisings and so-called color revolutions in Kyrgyzstan in 2005 and 2010 and in Uzbekistan in 2005. Kazakhstan accounts for some 60% of Central Asia’s gross domestic product, mainly through natural gas and oil production and distribution.
Kazakhstan is one of five Caspian Sea littoral states, along with Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan.
It hosts the Baikonur Cosmodrome, leased to Russia, the world’s largest space launch facility.
Kazakhstan’s border with Russia, at 7,000 kilometers, is the longest continuous land border in the world.
In several significant ways it is a geostrategically vital country. It could be argued that there is none more so.
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