Central Asia

World leaders urges peaceful resolution to Kazakhstan crisis

Published : January 07, 2022 14:13 IST

World leaders reacted on January 6 to deadly clashes over fuel price hikes in Kazakhstan. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

Energy-rich Kazakhstan is facing its largest protests in a decade as world leaders call for calm.

Following days of unrest in the oil rich Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, world leaders have reacted to the deadly protests over gas price hikes. Russia sent paramilitaries to help suppress the riots overnight and by January 6, Kazakh authorities said they had regained control of government buildings. Days after violence began to unfold, world leaders called for calm.

What have world leaders said?

A day after the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-based alliance of six former Soviet countries, sent troops to Kazakshtan to quell the unrest, the E.U.'s top diplomat Josep Borrell expressed "great concern" and said "external military assistance" in Kazakhstan evoked "memories of situations to be avoided."

The White House said it was "closely monitoring" the dispatchment of troops. Washington would be watching for any violations of human rights and "any actions that may lay the predicate for the seizure of Kazakh institutions," press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi about the state of emergency in place. Blinken "reiterated the United States' full support for Kazakhstan's constitutional institutions and media freedom and advocated for a peaceful, rights-respecting resolution to the crisis."

In a statement, the German Foreign Ministry said: "Violent riots are not an acceptable means of political conflict. The use of lethal force against civilians, especially when military forces are deployed, must always be a last resort ... The task now is to find a peaceful solution to the situation within the framework of a comprehensive dialogue with all parties involved."

U.N. rights chief Michelle Bachelet said: "People have the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression. At the same time, protesters, no matter how angry or aggrieved they may be, should not resort to violence against others." A spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was following developments very closely. "We are urging against further escalation and want to see a peaceful resolution," he said. France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for the government and the protesters to "show moderation and open a dialogue."

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to convey solidarity. Erdogan said he was closely watching developments and hoped the unrest would subside so a new government could be formed. Erdogan also offered "all forms of technical information and experience," and discussed the crisis with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

Why is Kazakhstan geostrategically important?

Kazakhstan is a major oil producer and one of the world's largest producers of uranium. Its daily output is roughly 1.6 million barrels per day. The country has deals with global energy giants. Oil production at the critical Tengiz oil field was also reduced on January 6 due to unrest. Train lines were disrupted as some contractors experienced work stoppages carried out in support of the protests. There are seldom disruptions to the country's energy exports due to civil unrest or inclement weather.

ar/rt (AFP, Reuters)