OSW Commentary - Kazakhstan: heading towards uncertainty - Winter 2022: the state on the brink of disaster
13 September 2023
At the same time, the country has strengthened its political and economic relations with China, as well as with the EU and the US, even though its territory is one of the most important routes which the Russian Federation uses to circumvent the restrictions. [...] This means that it is no longer seen as a guarantor of stability in Central Asia, but rather as the most serious threat to the region.2 The aggression of 24 February 2022 escalated Kazakhs’ fears about their own sovereignty, and made it clear to both the country’s leaders and the Kazakh public that the threats to the territorial integrity of their state are real. [...] In June 2022, Tokayev refused to recognise the so-called ‘people’s republics’ in the Donbas or the results of the ‘referenda’ concerning the territories of Ukraine controlled by the Russian Federation at that time. [...] to fulfil their aspirations to the changes they had been promised.16 People have repeatedly taken to the streets to protest against the lack of jobs in the ‘oil-producing’ western part of the country, which was the heart of the stormy demonstrations of 2022. [...] This is the factor that will determine the strength and nature of the chal- lenges Kazakhstan will need to face as regards the Russian minority and the attitude of the old elite, who retain strong links with the Russian Federation.