On the eve of Kazakhstan’s holiday of national sovereignty in the network appeared photos in which U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Daniel Rosenblum appears along with Kazakhstani servicemen and servicewomen. Their captions read: ‘NATO peacekeeping center has opened in Almaty’, ‘The Kazakh military will undergo NATO-standard training at the center’, and the like. Russian political experts and propagandists seem to have been affected by all that in the way that a bull would be affected by a red rug.
A news item about the opening of a supposed NATO facility in the Central Asian country turned out to be false. Kazakhstan’s Defense Ministry reacted swiftly to it, noting that the gathering in question was to mark the opening of a conference hall at the Peacekeeping Operations Center, a training facility that has been run by the Ministry itself – and no other outside entity – since 2006.
The Americans did not stand aside and contributed to clarifying the situation. The American Consulate in Almaty noted in a statement that the conference hall had been funded with support from the United States to help ‘expand Kazakhstan’s ability to train international peacekeepers’.
The official website of the Peacekeeping Operations Center said, that the purpose of the facility is to train civilians, police officers, and military personnel for peacekeeping operations and instruct them on the basics of international humanitarian law. The relevant curriculum was certified by the United Nations in 2019. NATO remains out of the picture.
It would appear, there is now clarity. But one has no idea when the Russian propaganda machine, which is vast and has taken the bit between its teeth, will stop now.
Alexander Sladkov, a Russian state media war correspondent who has over a million followers on the messaging app Telegram, caused quite a resonance with the Russian and Kazakhstani public, by saying that ‘NATO has already entered Kazakhstan’. His conclusion is based on the spurious information, that a would-be NATO peacekeeping operations center just opened in Almaty, and the opening ceremony was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Daniel Rosenblum.
He is, as the Russian press claims, appalled that such a facility began operating in a nation that is a member of the Russia-led CSTO. What is even more worrisome to him and his like in Russia is that it is assumed that the center will train Kazakh military personnel according to NATO standards.
Alexander Sladkov, commenting on this news, argued that the country would have to choose between the West and sovereignty. According to him, a choice by Kazakhstan in favor of NATO, if it so decides, would mean a loss of sovereignty.
Vadim Trukhachev, an associate professor of international relations at the Russian State University for the Humanities, told MosregToday that “Central Asia is not NATO’s area of direct responsibility, and besides, Kazakhstan will not quarrel with both Russia and China at once”. According to him, ‘NATO and Astana will not stop cooperating, but China will on no account allow Kazakhstan to become part of NATO’.
Sergey Mardan, a Kremlin propagandist, seems set to a more aggressive growl at Kazakhstan because of this development.
“Unlike the prudent Nazarbayev, Tokayev tends to be rushed. According to his logic, Moscow has already lost the post-Soviet area, and it is necessary to make use of the [current] situation”, he said.
“I wonder with whose help he [President Tokayev] is going to stop an incursion by the Russian Army in the southern Siberian steppes [Northern Kazakhstan] when they come there to assess the level of mastering the NATO standards by the Kazakh Army”, he added.
According to him, ‘uranium deposits must be taken under reliable control by the Russian Army in order to keep Kazakhstan, or what would be left of it non-nuclear’.
“Besides that, it is necessary to return the city of Vernyi [Almaty] to its historical name”, Mardan concluded.
Earlier, Sergey Mardan, referring to the words spoken by President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the joint news briefing following his meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, said: “It is not quite decent discussing our affairs with our enemies. Though maybe Tokayev does not know that Germany is our enemy, that the Germans supply tanks that shoot at Russians?!”. “We need to tell him”, he added sarcastically.
“They [Kazakh elites] are afraid of Western sanctions. They are afraid of Russia, too. They fear that Crimea and Donbas will be repeated in Petropavlovsk, Kostanay, Uralsk, Pavlodar, and Ust-Kamenogorsk”, Vadim Trukhachev told the website NEWS.ru. According to him, Kazakhstan has been involved – as an intermediary – in the delivery of parallel imports of goods to Russia [since the launch of ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine], and ‘Tokayev denies this to avoid the sanction’. He noted that if Astana recognizes parallel imports, the property that the Kazakh elites have in the West will be under threat, so ‘Tokayev is forced to say things that are [opposing and] mutually exclusive’.
That is, it was not the first time that Sergey Mardan and Vadim Trukhachev discussed Kazakhstan and President Tokayev.