Kazakhstan called for assistance. Why did Russia dispatch troops so quickly?

The UC proudly shares excerpt from Alexander Cooley's article for Washington post on recent development in Kazakhstan.


On Jan. 5, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) agreed to send troops to help the Kazakh government quell mounting political unrest. What had started as protests against a rise in fuel prices in the western city of Zhanaozen rapidly turned into broad demonstrations against government corruption and lack of reforms across Kazakhstan’s major cities, including the largest city of Almaty. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev blamed the protests on a “terrorist threat.”

The CSTO’s rotating chair, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, granted Tokayev’s request for assistance within hours — following “all-night consultations” that included Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Russian troops comprised the bulk of the 2,500 dispatched, reportedly tasked with securing Almaty airport, major energy facilities and the Russian-operated cosmodrome at Baikonur.

What is the CSTO?

What does this deployment mean — and what is the CSTO? Some analysts see the deployment of Russian troops as analogous to the Soviet Union’s intervention in the domestic affairs of Warsaw Pact countries. But this first intervention by the Eurasian security organization isn’t a callback to the Cold War. My research suggests it’s a sign of the rise of contemporary regional organizations designed to protect the survival of autocratic regimes.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization currently has six members — Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It has its origins as the Collective Security Treaty, signed in 1992 as a follow-up to the Commonwealth of Independent States, formed after the Soviet Union dissolved.

Read the full article here.