Kazakhstan’s Ongoing Military Expansion May Ultimately Threaten Russia – OpEd


Kazakhstan has been reforming, modernizing and expanding its military forces since the January 2022 events forced Astana to call in forces from the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty to put them down. It is thus directed primarily against internal threats rather than at neighboring countries, Maksim Kramarenko says.

But the Moscow security analyst says that there is a foreign dimension to this build up because of the possibility that outside countries may exploit domestic problem as part of a hybrid war effort against Kazakhstan (ia-centr.ru/experts/maksim-kramarenko/kazakhstan-gotovitsya-k-voyne-s-kem-i-dlya-chego/).

Among the signs pointing to that conclusion is Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s appointment of an interior ministry general to head the defense ministry and revisions Kazakhstan’s defense doctrine that stress the link between domestic and foreign threats (tengrinews.kz/kazakhstan_news/tokaev-vnes-izmeneniya-v-voennuyu-doktrinu-kazahstana-480536/).

But other changes in that doctrine raise questions that must be of concern to Moscow, Kramarenko says. The Kazakhstan document now specifies that one of the tasks of the country’s military is to block any efforts to change the international order. That puts Kazakhstan on the side of the West given that both Russia and China are seeking a new and more just order.

And because that is so, the analyst concludes, it is entirely possible that Kazakhstan’s expanded and modernized army will act in support of the West against Russian and Chinese moves, something Moscow must be ready to block or even prevent by taking action before Astana goes too far.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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