Russia’s failure to defend CSTO member Armenia forced Kazakhstan to turn to the West for strategic needs, Chinese media reported

(From left) Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) Secretary-General Stanislav Zas pose for a photo at the CSTO leaders' summit in Yerevan, Armenia, on November 23. [Karen Minasyan/AFP]

Kazakhstan’s recent actions have reportedly led to a sense of betrayal felt by Russia, as detailed by journalists from China.

Despite Kazakhstan being traditionally viewed as a close ally and friend to Russia, the dynamics between the two countries have seemingly shifted, causing unease within the Russian Federation.

According to AB News, reports from Chinese media outlets, the relationship took a notable turn following Kazakhstan’s response to assistance provided by Russia during the 2022 unrest within its borders. At the time, Russia’s intervention to quell the disturbances was perceived as an act of goodwill, potentially strengthening the ties between Moscow and Astana.

However, the expectation of gratitude appears to have been met with an unexpected distancing by Kazakhstan from Russia.

Kazakhstan’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has publicly criticized Russia on several occasions, notably expressing disapproval of referendums conducted in the new Russian regions. Such actions have been interpreted as a lack of respect towards Russia, sparking significant dissatisfaction from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin, according to Chinese journalists, is particularly displeased with what he perceives as ingratitude from a neighbor he considered saved.

Further complicating matters, Kazakhstan has been actively seeking ways to reroute its oil and gas supplies to bypass Russian ports, indicating a desire to reduce dependency on Moscow. Additionally, the increased visits from Western leaders to Astana have been seen as indicators of Kazakhstan’s potential pivot away from Russia and towards Western alliances.

The situation has been described by Sohu journalists as Kazakhstan responding with a “stab in the back” to Russia’s kindness, engaging in maneuvers with the West and distancing itself from Moscow. This perspective suggests that Kazakhstan’s leadership is taking risks by aligning more closely with Western interests.

This development raises questions about the stability and future of Russia-Kazakhstan relations and the geopolitical balance in the region. While Russia expresses anger over these perceived slights, Western countries may view Kazakhstan’s actions as an opportunity to strengthen their own ties with the nation.

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