By Paul Goble
Several Russian officials and commentators are suggesting that Vladimir Putin should use the contingent of forces of the Organization of the Collective Treaty Organization to annex Kazakhstan (facebook.com/sultan.hamzaev/posts/10161620154619832 and regnum.ru/news/polit/3471049.html).
But Mikhail Savva, a professor at Kuban State University and the head of the SOVA expert group for Ukraine, dismisses this talk, not because there aren’t Russians who favor it but because there is no question that Putin does not (kavkazr.com/a/deputat-gosdumy-ot-dagestana-prizval-prisoedinitj-kazahstan-k-rossii/31641996.html).
Such an annexation of all or part of Kazakhstan “will not take place,” he says, “because the Putin regime in this case would risk discrediting the mechanism of foreign interference under the CST flag” because people would conclude that the CST forces are simply a means for Russian conquest.
Putin has larger fish to fry, Savva continues, and thus “the significance of the CST for suppressing popular protests is greater for Putin than adding a few oblasts from Kazakhstan to the Russian Federation.” What the Kremlin leader wants, Savva continues, is for CST forces to provide cover for Russia as “a gendarme on the post-Soviet space.”