It was accused of being behind the violence.. Why is Kazakhstan so important to Washington?
Washington – 30 years ago, the United States was the first country to recognize the independence of Kazakhstan after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since independence, Kazakhstan has pursued a multi-oriented foreign policy and seeks to balance its relations with major powers, especially as it shares a long border with Russia from the north and China to the east.
However, many experts consider Kazakhstan to be one of the countries in the orbit of Russian influence, and this has complicated US-Kazakh relations, especially in recent years.
Washington and Moscow and the demonstrations
With the outbreak of violence and mass demonstrations protesting the increase in liquefied natural gas prices in many Kazakh cities, some Russian newspapers linked these protests to a role played by foreign hands, in reference to the United States.
American experts believe that Moscow does not want the regime in Kazakhstan to make concessions to the opposition and the demonstrators, at a time when Russian newspapers indicated that what is happening in Kazakhstan is a “dirty trick targeting Moscow” ahead of important talks days later on the Ukraine crisis between Washington, NATO and Russia.
That prompted White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki to say, “There are some crazy Russian claims about the United States being behind this, so let me just take this opportunity to show that it’s completely bogus, and obviously part of the Russian disinformation book that we’ve seen over the course of the year. past years”.
On the other hand, a statement issued by the State Department indicated that the US government is closely following the developments in the situation in Kazakhstan.
The statement condemned the acts of violence and destruction of property, and called on the authorities and demonstrators to exercise restraint, and to respect and defend constitutional institutions, human rights and freedom of the media, including the restoration of Internet access.
The US State Department called on all parties to work to solve the dilemma of declaring an emergency in the country.
This prompted Sergei Kasparov, the famous Russian opposition politician and chess player, to tweet attacking US and Western diplomatic statements calling for calm.
“Will Biden and EU leaders pay attention to a new Soviet-style invasion of Hungary? Or will they continue to babble about diplomatically resolving Putin’s military adventures? Macron, Schulz, Putin support dictatorships around the world, who defends the people?” Kasparov said. “.
This came after the announcement by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that the Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization decided to send peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan (a member country of the organization) against the backdrop of the security turmoil there.
The decision came in response to an appeal by Kazakh President Kassym Tokayev, leaders of the member states of the organization controlled by Moscow, to help his country in the face of recent violence and unrest.
The importance of Kazakhstan to Washington
Kazakhstan’s importance stems from its unique location between Russia and China and its richness in energy resources. Since its independence, it has worked to improve its relations with Washington, and has succeeded in this greatly.
According to a recent study released by the Congressional Research Service weeks ago, a recent history combines the two countries to rid Kazakhstan of nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan was home to the main nuclear test site of the Soviet Union, an area of 6,950 square miles located near the city of Symi (northeast Kazakhstan). .
More than 450 nuclear tests were conducted there at the Semipalatinsk test site between 1949 and 1989, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left Kazakhstan with one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, including about 1,400 nuclear warheads and more than 100 ICBMs.
But Kazakhstan gave up nuclear weapons and the Soviet warheads that remained on its soil, the last of which were transferred to Russia in 1995 with American help, and Kazakhstan cooperated closely with the United States to secure nuclear materials and dismantle the associated infrastructure.
The United States has provided more than $275 million in assistance in Kazakhstan’s efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and related infrastructure since 1991.
Advanced military and security relations
During testimony in the Senate in February 2019, the commander of the US Central Command at the time, General Joseph Votel, described US relations with Kazakhstan as “the most mature relationship in Central Asia.”
The contacts between the US and Kazakh armies are an important aspect of the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Since 2003, Kazakhstan has hosted multilateral military exercises focused on strengthening the capabilities of peacekeeping forces. In the latest version of these exercises, which was conducted in southeastern Kazakhstan in June 2019, American forces participated in addition to forces from Britain, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, with observers from India and Turkey. and Uzbekistan.
The human rights dilemma
US freedom and human rights organizations classify Kazakhstan as not free and undemocratic, and it was not invited to participate in President Biden’s summit on democracy in December 2021.
The US State Department has requested $10.7 million in assistance to Kazakhstan in fiscal year 2022, which aims to promote human rights and democratic values by supporting the rule of law, promoting the development of local media, and building the capacity of civil society organizations.