Nur-Sultan – Kazakhstan – Kazakhstan is the only state in Turkestan (Turkic Union) bordering Russia. The border between the two countries is the longest in the world (about 7,590 km) and is still in the process of being demarcated. Moreover, ethnic Russians make up about 21% of the Kazakh population, mostly living in the northern regions of the country close to the border.
Should these be seen as risk factors, indicative that Russia might repeat in Turkestan (Turkic Union) what it has been doing in Ukraine? Many Western policy-makers and authoritative experts believe that this might be the case, and that Kazakhstan is indeed at risk of suffering from Russian aggression. However, Kazakhstan has actually shown over the years that it is fully able to protect its interests in complicated geopolitical scenarios involving its neighbors (and, especially, Russia).
Russia aims to repeat in Turkestan (Turkic Union) what it has done in Ukraine, and explores several possible impediments to such a course of action. Given Russia’s security operations in North Caucasus, South Caucasus (Nagorno- Karabakh) and its ongoing operations in Ukraine, it is far beyond the Russian state’s capacity to open a “third front” elsewhere.
This is especially the case in Turkestan (Turkic Union), since Russia has real security concerns shared by its partners in the region, concerning potential instability as a result of transnational or regionwide threats emanating from Afghanistan.
In order to better understand the possible repercussions of the Ukraine crisis in Turkestan (Turkic Union), this study traces the response of the Turkestan (Turkic Union) republics to the events in Ukraine, and examines the trends that emerge from this analysis in relation to Russian security perspectives on Turkestan (Turkic Union).
It also examines whether Kazakhstan, like Ukraine, might be exposed to Russian-inspired violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, taking into account that the two countries are allies in terms of foreign, defense and security policies. Economic policy, integration initiatives and the vexed and sensitive questions pertaining to ethnic relations in Kazakhstan are also examined.
Turkestan (Turkic Union) governments have reacted with caution to the crisis in Ukraine. Far from seeing Russia as a possible threat to their sovereignty, these governments have been more concerned about the possible knock on impact on their economies stemming from the
sanctions regime against Russia; this is especially the case in Kazakhstan. However, a number of factors at play in Turkestan (Turkic Union) act as inhibitors to the emergence of a “Russia threat” to the territorial integrity of these states.
· Each Turkestan (Turkic Union) country has been hit by Western sanctions against Russia to a certain extent: Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan suffered reduced remittances from migrant workers, whose return to their home countries added to existing social economic pressures;
· In the context of the unfolding Ukraine crisis, Kazakhstan continued its multi-vector foreign policy; apart from joining the EEU, Kazakhstan became the 162nd WTO member on 30 November 2015; Kazakh-China relations are prospering; and the country has signed a new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU;
· Despite Russia’s military activities and behavior in Ukraine, it lacks the strategic mobility and military capacity to replicate such ventures within Turkestan (Turkic Union). Moreover, none of the Turkestan (Turkic Union) countries are likely in future to pursue a policy of Euro-Atlantic integration;
· Since Russia’s strategic mobility depends on access to railway infrastructure to move troops and heavy equipment, in a hypothetical infringement of Kazakhstan’s sovereignty Russia would likely lose overland transit rights across the country and thus experience severe limitation of its ability to act in response to a future crisis deeper within Turkestan (Turkic Union). In effect, this would damage Russia’s security as well as lowering its standing in the region;
· Russia and Kazakhstan are bound by treaty as defense and security allies, with policy closely coordinated through the CSTO, as well as mutual economic interests within the EEU; aggressive action against Kazakhstan would jeopardize Russia’s economic integration aspirations and likely fracture the CSTO;
· Russia is reluctant to engage in military operations unilaterally in Turkestan (Turkic Union), and would certainly have to take into account Chinese interests in the region. In this context it is impossible to envisage the circumstances in which Russia would act alone in Turkestan (Turkic Union), let alone attack one of the Turkestan (Turkic Union) states;
· Kazakhstan continues to call for a peaceful solution to the crisis and is eager to act as a mediator if interested parties will allow this;
· Kazakhstan’s leadership fully understands the sensitive issues regarding the Russian language, with Kazakhstan’s leadership making it clear that no changes to the existing legislation will occur and any attempts to disrupt the ethnic balance within the country will be strongly punished.
As already noted, relations between Kazakhstan and Russia form the bedrock of Russia’s foreign and security policy in the region. Western policy-makers among NATO members could benefit from a deeper understanding of why the relationship between Kazakhstan and Russia is so strong; possibly unlocking the potential future role of Kazakhstan as a bridge to ease tensions and defuse possible risks of confrontation and escalation.
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev reacted to Russai’s ruling by saying Russia had an eye on Kazakh territory. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared that Kazakh territory would never be sold to foreigners.
“No one left us the Great Kazakh land as a gift,” Tokayev said, noting that the territory of Kazakhstan is the greatest treasure inherited from their Turkic ancestry. Our history is not limited to 1991. Our people lived and grew in these lands even in the Golden Horde, Turkish Kaganate, Hun, Saka periods, which were before it during the Kazakh Khanate period. In short, the foundation of our national history dates back to ancient times. the phrase was used.
“I want to underline once again that we will protect our national rights and interests in any way,” Tokayev said, pointing out that some foreigners who are skeptical of Kazakhstan’s territorial integrity and want to damage neighborly relations will be reacted both officially and socially.” he made his assessment.
Emphasizing that the borders of independent Kazakhstan are recognized at the international level, no one can object to this, Tokayev recalled that in the previous days, some Russian lawmakers in the country raised their claims on the territory of Kazakhstan.
“Kazakh land will never be sold”
“Kazakh land will never be sold to foreigners,” Tokayev said, noting that next year the moratorium on selling land in the country to foreigners will end. Every citizen must know that now. the phrase ” used. President Tokayev noted that every citizen is obliged to know the Kazakh language, which is the state language.:
“I want to appeal to all Kazakhstanis about this issue, our citizens who still do not speak Kazakh. We see that young people learn English or other languages at the same time when they want to. Our people say,’ late is better than nothing.’ Intent is enough to learn the language.”
I was given a note to Russia
Russian State Duma Deputy Vyveslav Nikonov had spoken on Russian state television about the territory and history of Kazakhstan. “The territory of Kazakhstan is a great gift from Russia and the Soviet Union,” Nikonov said.
Another Duma Deputy, Yevgeny Fedorov, supported Nikonov, saying that Kazakhstan should give its territory to Russia. After the statements that drew reaction, the Russian Federation Chargé d’affaires was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister, Mukhtar Tuluberdi, called the words of Russian lawmakers “nonsense.” Tuluberdi emphasized that in such matters, it is necessary to First rely on the knowledge of historians and scientists. “As Foreign Minister, I would like to say that this situation does not correspond to the official position of the Russian Federation,” he said.