The first planes with peacekeepers on board have already flown from Kazakhstan to Russia on January 13… It is expected that the withdrawal of peacekeepers could be completed faster than the ten days originally announced. True, weather conditions or a possible force majeure during the transfer of important infrastructure facilities to the Kazakh authorities may delay units in the country. CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas, in an interview with Izvestia, stressed that the organization had gained important experience in conducting such operations. Experts believe that the withdrawal was not premature, and the ambiguous statements of one of the new ministers of Kazakhstan will not affect further cooperation.
The CSTO is not NATO
On January 13, the withdrawal of the CSTO peacekeeping contingent from Kazakhstan began. The entire operation should be completed on January 19, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the same day.
According to Izvestia’s sources in the military department, the joint headquarters has already approved a plan for the withdrawal of the peacekeeping contingent. The last flight is expected to leave Kazakhstan on January 18th. But the real pace will depend on the situation in the country and on the transfer of protected objects by peacekeepers to local law enforcement officers. If necessary, the withdrawal of troops can be extended for several daysth. In the meantime, it is planned to send up to two dozen transport aircraft per day from two airfields – Almaty and Zhetygen.
Four Il-76MD military transport aircraft were the first to leave the republic. On January 13, units of the 331st Guards Airborne Regiment of the 98th Airborne Division flew to Ivanovo along with combat vehicles.
On the morning of January 14, the Belarusian contingent will leave for home from the Zhetygen airfield, located 50 km from the southern capital of Kazakhstan. Then on the same day the servicemen of Armenia and Tajikistan will fly away… Kyrgyz peacekeepers will return home on Friday in their combat vehicles by land route.
On Thursday, a solemn ceremony dedicated to the end of the CSTO peacekeeping operation in Kazakhstan was held at the Military Institute of Ground Forces in Alma-Ata. It was on the territory of the institute that the main base of the contingent and the headquarters of the group were located. The event began with a moment of silence in memory of those who died during the emergency in Kazakhstan. After that, the national anthems of the participating countries were played, and for the first time in such a context, the anthem of the CSTO.
During the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Defense of Kazakhstan Mukhamedzhan Talasov stressed that the operation was the first time that the CSTO peacekeeping potential was used to stabilize the situation in one of the organization’s member states.
– You have provided protection for strategic and other important facilities. Thanks to this, Kazakh military personnel and law enforcement agencies were unloaded, which were able to start searching, detaining and destroying terrorists, Mukhamedzhan Talasov said.
CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas raised the issue of the timeliness of the withdrawal of the allied contingent from Kazakhstan.
— The situation in Alma-Ata is completely under control. Mission accomplished. The country that receives them should draw conclusions whether peacekeepers are needed or not, the CSTO Secretary General said. – They live here and concluded that everything has stabilized, and their own forces will be enough… Within ten days, or maybe even earlier – it will depend, among other things, on the weather – we will return all the peacekeepers home.
Answering a question from an Izvestia correspondent, Stanislav Zas noted that the CSTO governing bodies had gained important experience in organizing such operations. According to him, these days, in a real situation, the regulatory documents that have been created over the past years have been tested.
The CSTO is not NATO, and the main function of the organization is stabilizing, Dmitry Abzalov, president of the Center for Strategic Communications, told Izvestia.
— The CSTO does not interfere in the internal affairs of this or that country, this is not an organization that would send troops, and then put forward a list of ministerial posts or oil companies that they would like to receive, like the United States in Iraq, says the expert. — Yes, Tokayev and Kazakhstan managed to survive as a state thanks to the CSTO and, in many respects, Russia. But now the Kazakh leadership and the president are confident that the situation has returned to normal and they can keep it under control.
It is not so important for Russia who is in power there – President Tokayev or one of the Nazarbaevs. The task is to prevent radical and terrorist organizations from coming to Kazakhstan, including ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in Russia), the expert concluded.
At a meeting with Vladimir Putin, Sergei Shoigu specified that the transportation of Russia’s partners in the CSTO was scheduled for January 14.
– Tomorrow we will withdraw all the forces of our colleagues – Armenia, Tajikistan, Belarus with 14 sides. The Kyrgyz colleagues are leaving – taking into account that they are nearby – on their own. Further, within five days, as the objects are handed over, the remaining peacekeeping forces will also be withdrawn,” the Minister of Defense said.
According to the President of Russia, the CSTO peacekeeping forces played a very important role in stabilizing the situation in Kazakhstan.
“Indeed, we managed to secure all vital infrastructure facilities, release a significant number of military personnel and law enforcement forces to conduct special operations inside the country,” the head of state noted.
Putin recalled that this was the first operation of this nature for the CSTO. At the same time, the organization was able to achieve its goals.and, which will allow the leadership of Kazakhstan to calmly resolve issues of a socio-economic and political nature in a dialogue with society, he added.
– Our military transport aviation played a big role here, these are quite obvious things. We quickly managed to concentrate our necessary forces and means, resources. Everything literally worked like clockwork: quickly, smoothly and efficiently,” Vladimir Putin said..
Sergei Shoigu recalled that 14 key communications and energy facilities, as well as those responsible for the vital activity and viability of the state, were under the protection of peacekeepers. Thanks to the arrival of the peacekeepers, it was possible in the very first days to release about 1,600 employees of the law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan, who were actively involved in the fight against bandits, the Minister of Defense explained.
On the same day, Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who announced measures to finally restore order in the country. Vladimir Putin discussed the January events by phone and with President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
– The process of withdrawing the CSTO peacekeepers is now beginning. Everything happens within the framework of the contract. We have fulfilled our mission, and if the Kazakh authorities believe that the situation is stable, we should not stay there. I think Tokayev will really be able to keep the situation under control,” says Inna Vetrenko, head of the Department of Management and Social Technologies at the North-Western Institute of the RANEPA.
Who is new
The stabilization of the situation in the country and the withdrawal of peacekeepers are taking place against the backdrop of significant changes in the authorities of Kazakhstan. On January 11, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev approved the new government of the republic. The composition of the Cabinet included Askar Umarov, who became the Minister of Information and Social Development. He owns the authorship of Russophobic quotes in social networks. This caused a sharp reaction from some Russian officials. The day after the appointment, the head of Rossotrudnichestvo, Yevgeny Primakov, announced that the agency was refusing to work with Umarov. In his Telegram channel, the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, wrote that “We will not be happy with Minister Askar Umarov at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. We don’t expect him there.”
— Indeed, there were awkward statements, incorrect statements by the minister. It should be judged by the statements that Umarov will already be making in his new status, ”said Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian president, on January 13.
He stressed that the ministers appointed by Tokayev will have to work, interact and deepen cooperation.
The appearance of a person who is known for his ambiguous statements towards Russia as the Minister of Information of Kazakhstan is a kind of compromise that equalizes the balance of power in the country and eliminates contradictions, Inna Vetrenko is sure.
— The minister does not pose a danger, she said. He is the lesser of all evils. His Russophobic statements are in the past. There were also more radical leaders who were prophesied for positions in the new government.
As Dmitry Abzalov noted, what matters is how the Kazakh minister behaves now.
“Moscow, of course, would like to see consistent steps,” the expert noted. “Moreover, by its actions it has confirmed the status of a consistent strategic partner.
The state of emergency on Thursday, January 13, was lifted in three of the fourteen regions of Kazakhstan. On the same day, Almaty Airport, temporarily occupied by protesters during the riots, resumed passenger flights as normal.… The railway connection has also been restored.