CSTO intervention in Kazakhstan: what is it about and what is Russia’s agenda?

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Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on Central Asia, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University

Temur Umarov, Research Consultant, Carnegie Moscow Center

Chaired by

Marie Dumoulin, Director, Wider Europe Programme, ECFR


Long seen as the pole of stability in Central Asia, Kazakhstan is facing its most serious political crisis to date. What began as a reaction to a spike in fuel prices in the western oil-producing regions spread across the country with unprecedented calls for reform, before escalating into violence in the country’s biggest city, Almaty. After failing to quell unrest with a cabinet reshuffle and economic concessions, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev resorted to tougher measures, launching an operation to regain control of the situation and appealing to the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for military assistance.

What consequences could the CSTO intervention have for Kazakhstan’s relationship with Russia and the geopolitical balance in the region? What are Russia’s plans in the region?