The tremors of the United States’ tensions with Russia playing out in Europe are being felt in different ways already in Asia. The hypothesis of Ukraine being in Europe and the conflict being all about European security is delusional.
From Kazakhstan to Myanmar, from Solomon Islands to the Kuril Islands, from North Korea to Cambodia, from China to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the fault lines are appearing.
To be sure, extra-regional powers had a hand in the failed colour revolution recently to overthrow the established government in Kazakhstan, a hotly contested geopolitical landmass two-thirds the size of India, bordering both China and Russia, Washington’s sworn adversaries. Thanks to swift Russian intervention, supported by China, a regime change was averted.
Russian servicemen fold the national flag during ceremony marking end of CSTO mission in Kazakhstan, Almaty, January 13, 2022
The readout of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “working meeting” in the Kremlin on Wednesday with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu regarding the Collective Security Treat Organisation’s mission to Kazakhstan needs careful analysis.
As is customary with Putin, so much more was said in the unsaid.
Putin spoke with the world audience in mind — Central Asia, Asia-Pacific, Eurasia and as far away as North America. But his number one priority would have been to be accountable to the Russian public.
This must be a rare page in American diplomatic history that a US Secretary of State has been literally off his rocker. Antony Blinken’s outbursts on the events in Kazakhstan were not only boorish but also illogical.
Blinken questioned the decision by the president of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Kemelevich Tokayev to request help from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) to deploy forces to help stabilise the grave situation in his country. He said it was unclear why the deployment was happening!
Moscow had emphasised right at the outset that the CSTO deployment would be temporary. Nonetheless, Blinken sniped that “one lesson of recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave”.
Riots flared up in several cities of Kazakhstan on January 2. Later they erupted in other cities, including in Almaty, the largest city in the country, and on January 5, the riots snowballed into mass riots and violence, along with looting and attacks on state buildings. The rioters beheaded 2 police officers. At least 18 security officers were killed by the rioters. Over 3,000 people have been detained. 26 armed rioters have been killed. Government offices, police headquarters and stations, TV centers, police vehicles were torched.
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has requested assistance of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a post-Soviet security bloc. The first units of peacekeepers have started fulfilling their assigned tasks in Kazakhstan.
A state of emergency has been declared all across Kazakhstan.