Instability in Kazakhstan


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That'll show me not to jump to conclusions.
Here's a brief and somewhat dated article that nonetheless serves as a decent introduction to some of the intricacies of Kazakh clan politics. They trace back to the migratory hordes of steppe riders and were sort of merged into an entity primarily by Soviet state-building efforts in Central Asia.



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Arrests are now numbered over 3000, with dozens killed, out of the arrested 70 are listed as insurgents, and 30 as looters. Tokaev has declared that the operation in Alma-Aty will continue until the town is clear of rioters. Checkpoints have begun appearing across the country as the situation transitions to a more controlled phase.

The CSTO forces have arrived in Kazakhstan, under the command of General-Colonel Serdyukov. Russian forces in particular are at the Alma-Aty airport. According to Tokaev, the CSTO mission in country will be brief and will serve support functions. It's likely they will take over low-risk areas, and free up other Kazakh units.

Total casualties for government forces are now listed as 18 KIA, with at least two decapitated, and 748 wounded.

Tokaev has stated that he instructed government forces to open with without warning shots, not explaining what the context, or the rules of engagement are. He also stated that Alma-Aty was invaded by 20 000 terrorists. He also accused, vaguely, some of the government officials of being complicit in allowing this to happen, stating that the security detail at the airport was removed 40 minutes prior to the attack on it. It's noteworthy that he made his speech in Russian, not in Kazakh.

In Aktau protesters have allegedly blockaded a National Guard detachment inside a sports center.

Damaged/destroyed National Guard vehicles near Aktau.

A large compilation of unsorted footage. The destruction seems to include plenty of regular civilian cars.

The identities of two of the soldiers killed in the fighting have been released to the public.

Also killed was the commander of a training center for border guard personnel, who was involved in suppressing the riots together with his students.

Officer candidates (students) at one of the armed forces colleges in Kazakhstan were apparently equipped with anti-riot gear, and e-tools, in preparation for possible use suppressing the riots.

There are reports that rioters captured a number of Igla-S MANPADS.

A vehicle column carrying allegedly armed rioters was shot up by government forces.

Footage from Nursultan, where things appear quiet.

Jan 5th footage out of Alma-Ata.

Jan 6th footage out of Alma-Ata.

Alma-Ata footage, date unclear.

Jan. 5th footage out of Aktobe.

More footage out of Alma-Aty airport, note the looted vending machines.

Footage from a looted jewlery store in Astana.

Belarussian military moving, likely for transport to Kazakhstan (1st link). Allegedly CSTO forces will include 3000 troops from Russia, 500 from Belarus, 200 from Tadjikistan, and 70 from Armenia (2nd link). Russian Leer-3 UAV-carried EW systems were spotted among the forces being deployed, why they would need them is unclear (3rd-4th links). Links 5-9 are images of Russian forces preparing for deployment and arriving in Kazakhstan. They seem to be primarily VDV.

Allegedly Belarus has deployed on company to Kazakhstan so far, using Russian transports.

Armenian troops headed towards Erebuni, presumably for deployment to Kazakhstan.



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I found this short read:
Unfortunately, it only reassured me that there's even more chaos than I can understand at the moment.


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I found this short read:
Unfortunately, it only reassured me that there's even more chaos than I can understand at the moment.
I disagree with his last conclusion.

t’s unlikely that Moscow sees the current unrest in Kazakhstan (and the CSTO response to that unrest) as an opportunity to crystalize or serve some broader strategic approach
I suspect that Russia does see their move into Kazakhstan as a major step. The CSTO, with the exception of Armenia, is a collection of clearly authoritarian states (I'm not saying Armenia is a thriving democracy, but it does have changes of leadership). Many of these states have flirted with the west at one time or another. I think at this point the realization has set in that the west, in the long run, has no use for their kind of leadership. Lukashenko can buy himself all the favor he wants, if an opportunity presents itself, the US and EU will be happy to see him removed. So now many of these regimes are willing to once again gather themselves around Russia, the way they were starting to before the Ukraine fiasco (remember the Eurasian Union project that died?). That war scared many, including Kazakhstan. But now it's been a while, Russia is clearly not on an imperial warpath to reclaim lost territories, and concerns like regime preservation have come to the forefront after affairs in Belarus where the prospect of aid from Russia was also on the table, and now Kazakhstan. Notice how the contingent of troops, despite the article's focus on exclusively Russia, actually has forces from basically all the members. It appears Russia accounts for ~2/3rds of the contingent. I suspect this is, on the one hand, to send a message that this isn't a Russian occupation. On the other hand to set up a precedent for future action. In Belarus Russian military aid was only considered. In Kazakhstan CSTO deployment is a reality but they're not fighting the rioters/insurgents. If in Tadzhikistan there is an Islamist uprising threatening the survival of the government, we may see a CSTO deployment actually going to war. I think this move crystallizes a new strategy of regime preservation for various post-Soviet authoritarians in alliance with Russia because it's strong enough to help, happy to deal with their corrupt and authoritarian ways, unlike the west, but not strong enough to swallow them whole like China. Interestingly enough a number of other post-Soviet states would make perfect additions to this pattern, including Aliev's Azerbaijan, as well as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. I'm not up to speed on Uzbek politics, but Turkmenistan is at this time still living with the legacy of it's insane dictator Turkmenbashi. Unlike Russia or Kazakhstan, or even Belarus, Turkmenistan went down the road of full and open dictatorship, with a personality cult. Thus they stayed out of certain regional blocks. It's entirely possible that, if they start to feel more comfortable with other players, or less comfortable with their security situation, they may want to join. Azerbaijan is, for better or worse, firmly tied in with Turkey. Whether Erdogan will be able to protect Aliev from internal unrest remains to be seen. Unlike Central Asia, Azerbaijan doesn't really have external threats.


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Things seem to have calmed down but smaller scale combat operations continue against presumably armed insurgents.

A lengthy battle took place in the suburbs of Alma-Aty at a town called Rayumbek.

A firefight in Alma-Aty on the 7th,

Government forces speeding through Alma-Aty and firing into the air.

Alma-Aty on the 7th.

Gunfire erupts suddenly in Taldykorgane where we have reports of attack on the local jail. Allegedly the attack was repulsed. You can hear the civil defense sirens going off. There is also information that a number of armed bandits have gathered in the town and an operation was launched to taken them out.

In Ural'sk a car was stopped with 3 men, and a woman with a child. In it was a 12 gauge shot gun, 50 cell phones, 23 smart watches, and 6 tablets. Also bags full of clothes with the anti-theft devices still attached. They were likely looters.

In Alma-Aty presumably Kazbat, from the 38th Para-Assault Bde have been spotted. They're a unit trained for UN peacekeeping.

Footage of the arrest of alleged insurgents in Alma-Aty.

Flashbangs being handed out to Kazakh military from KazBat, in Alma-Aty. KazBat is a unit trained for peacekeeping operations.

Night operations in Alma-Aty.

Some footage of National Guard troops in Alma-Aty.

Unsorted footage Alma-Aty.

Alma-Aty now has a curfew due to ongoing combat operations in the city.


Damaged police vehicles in Alma-Aty.

IFVs were used in Ust'-Kamenogorsk.

The Wild Arkan criminal gang was arrested.

Alleged distribution of weapons to protesters (1st link). Shymkent is allegedly fully under government control.

Checkpoint near Nursultan.

A checkpoint in an undisclosed location. Interesting use of hesco barriers, not previously seen I believe (Russia does use them though).

Security at Baikonur has been increased.

Unsorted footage.

Weapons and cash were found on insurgents in Zhambylskaya region. A large but undisclosed amount of cash in tenge, roubles, som, and dollars.

Unsorted footage.

In Kostanai locals were seen handing out tea to the riot police.

The Committee for National Safet (KNG, successor to the KGB) has published the names of 7 dead service members, including 2 teachers and 3 students from their academy, as well as two others. Its seems that several military and law enforcement schools were mobilized to help suppress the riots.

The names of 7 police officers killed in the fighting have been made public.

25 Russian tourists, skiers, evacuated from Kazakhstan.

Nazarbaev calls on the nation to unit around Tokaev.

Head of the KNB, Karim Maksimov, has been arrested on suspicion of treason.

A public safety patrol has been formed in Alma-Aty. It apparently consists of un-uniformed volunteers with anti-riot gear.

CSTO Forces.

Russian Infauna EW systems, normally part of the VDV, likely here with them.

Russian CSTO forces in Zhetygen.

Russia troop train headed west from East MD. Unclear if related to the current situation but it seems to be a motor-rifles unit, and the vehicle numbers are painted over. It's possible that additional units are being moved that won't deploy to Kazakhstan unless things escalate, but will stand by on the ready.

Armenian troops loading up to head to Kazakhstan.

Armenian SpN arrives in Kazakhstan. Personally I have some doubts about this being correct. I see a female, and a man who is clearly obese. I suspect this is a rear end support unit that being misidentified as SpN on account of having shiny new uniforms and equipment, but those could have been issued to anyone for this deployment specifically.

CSTO forces in Alma-Aty airport.

Belarussian 103rd Airborne is Zhetagen.

Another Russian unit headed to Kazakhstan.

Kirgiz forces headed to Kazakhstan. They allegedly include 8 armored vehicles 11 cars/trucks, and 150 service members.

Russian VDV SpN took control of Alma-Aty airport and the Russian consulate.

Russia's new Il-76MD-90A have taken center stage in the recent deployment. 7 of these new transport jets are in service with the 235th Air Transport Rgt formed specifically for the new aircraft.

Allegedly a total of 74 Russian transport aircraft are involved in moving troops to Kazakhstan.

A list of sites under control of Russian troops. The sourcing is unclear and the photo is unrelated...

98th division VDV:
- Nursultan airport
- building of the General HQ of KZ Armed Forces
- TV Center
45th VDV SpN Bde:
- Alma-Aty Airport
- the town of Nursultan
- 602nd Base
- the town of Shymkent
31st VDV Bde:
- town of Ust'-Kamenogorsk
- KazAtomProm
- Presidential palace in Nursultan
- Central Bank
414th Marine Btln:
- port of Aktau

Personally I think that in many cases the forces are participating in security operations there rather then in control of the entire area.



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“One lesson of recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.''

To me Blinken's statement is highly questionable. The Russians were invited in to Syria and when IS was largely defeated they significantly reduced their presence in the country and stayed on with Syrian governmental approval. Unless of course he's referring to the Ukraine but then it always tends to be difficult getting uninvited visitors to leave; irrespective of nationality. If anything it's harder to get the Americans out of ones's house after they're in; judging by the difficulties the Iraqis faced getting the U.S. to fully withdraw.

A typical Cold War statement was the claim by Kazakhstan that 'foreign elements' were behind the troubles. The Kazakhs are also regularly referring to ''terrorists''; after 11th September 2001 it became increasingly common for various government's to loosely apply the ''terrorist'' label as means of justifying certain measures taken.
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The Organization of Turkish States offer full support to the regime in Kazhakstan: Turkic states stand by Kazakhstan with all their means: FM Çavuşoğlu | Daily Sabah

In my opinion this does not reflect well on NATO country Turkey. Violent riots are not a good thing of course, but neither is offering "full support" to a dictatorship.

Kazakhstan also says that Russian troops will start leaving within 2 days, and should be out within 10 days.

OT: It was interesting to me that Hungary is an Observer in OTS -- I was not aware of the strong historical and cultural linkage between Turkish and Hungarian societies: ANALYSIS - Hungary in the Organization of Turkic States: A Bridge between East and West ( Perhaps the Hungarian interest in OTS is also due to the congruence in mindset between the current Hungarian leadership, and the leaders of the Turkish States? It seems democracy, freedom of expression, and liberal values and not highly valued right now in Hungary.


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Orban said in 2014 that he'd like Hungary to be an 'illiberal state'. He spoke favourably of Russia, Turkey, China & Singapore & their systems of government.

Sandhi Yudha

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The foreign troops will soon return, between 2-10 days from now.
And according to Missie volbracht, buitenlandse troepen vertrekken weer, zegt Kazachse president 2000 troops were in total sent to Kazakhstan.

|"The Russian Ministry of Defence's TV Zvezda reported on its website on 7 January that the airlift involved 70 Il-76 and five An-124-1003 transports ...."|

Thats quite a lot for just 2000 men. Probably it was because of the amount of heavy equipment.

But as Feanor already said, its nice to see the new Il-76MD-90A in action and this operation is a good exercise for the units involved with it.


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It looks like Kazakhstan is done. CSTO forces are headed home. Police operations are still continuing but on a much smaller scale. In a way this was a very realistic exercise for CSTO decision-making and rapid-response capabilities. Overall the CSTO has gone from a purely political arrangement to a real military alliance. It's questionable how willing this alliance would be to stand up to a serious state-level adversary, but at least when it comes to lower-level threats it's proven able to act.