The military general who Russia has appointed to lead its “peacekeeping mission” in Kazakhstan is the same man who headed Moscow’s operations in Crimea and Syria over the past decade, increasing fears that the situation in the country could take the same course as the other countries in which Russian forces are present.
On Wednesday, following widespread and intense protests in the Kazakh city of Almaty over an increase in fuel prices, a state of emergency was declared and the government resigned.
The security situation continued to deteriorate after clashes took place between government forces and armed protestors, and were further incensed when President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gave security forces were given “shoot to kill” orders to supress the “terrorists”.
Tokayev requested Russia to send forces to assist him to quell the protests and enforce security, resulting in around 3,000 Russian troops being sent to the Kazakhstan, as well as almost a thousand more from other states such as Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia.
The intervening troops were deployed under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), otherwise known unofficially as the “Russian NATO” which consists of former Soviet states.
It has now been revealed that the CSTO forces are being led by the Russian General Andrei Serdyukov, who was also in charge of Russia’s military missions in other countries where Moscow has intervened, including the invasion and annexation of Crimea in Ukraine in 2014 and the maintenance of Russian forces in Syria in 2019.
According to the Russian news agency Interfax, the appointment of Serdyukov was announced yesterday by the Ministry of Defence’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov, who said that all of the deployed Russian brigades and divisions “have undergone special training and have real combat experience.”
“The Russian military personnel who arrived in the Republic of Kazakhstan immediately began to fulfil the assigned tasks.” Konashenko added that Russian forces and Kazakh law enforcement have taken control of Almaty’s international airport and other important sites such as the Russian consulate.
The appointment of Serdyukov has exacerbated existing concerns amongst many that the Kazakh government’s brutal crackdown on protestors and some of the protestors’ taking up of arms could lead to a civil war and instability that has been experienced in Syria and Libya over the past decade.