Some comments on Kazakhstan

As I am sure a lot of people have noticed, Kazakhstan has been in the news this week. The protests there have been large and violent. They are now saying that at least 164 people have died, including 18 police. It has put an end to the influence of the longest serving FSU (Former Soviet Union) dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev. He had been in office since 1990 (when the Soviet Union still existed). Good riddance, although I am not sure he is going to be replaced by anyone any better. It does not look like this is going to turn into a budding enlightened democracy any time soon. With Russia troops in the country, who knows exactly what path this will take.

The intervening force is CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), which had been around since 1992/1994. It has six members, Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kygyzstan and Tajikistan. Russia has the largest military of the six, with 900,000 active troops. The next largest military is 45,000. I gather most all of the members have sent troops to Kazakhstan, but clearly Russia is the dominate player. The current secretary general of CSTO is from Belarus.

At the moment, I don’t have much to say beyond what is being reported. Life has become uncomfortable for certain leaders in the FSU. The democratically elected but Russian aligned leader of Ukraine, Yanukovich, was thrown out of power in 2014 in the Euromaiden protests; the leader of Armenia, Sargsyan, was removed from office in 2018 (the Velvet Revolution); the leader of Belarus, Lukashenko, came pretty close to being thrown out of power in 2020/21 (the Slipper Revolution); and now the longest serving dictator in Kazakhstan has been thrown out of power in 2022. One does wonder who is next.

Update (1/13/22):

  1. CSTO sent around 2,500 troops.
  2. They are supposed to pull out by 19 January.
  3. Update 1/19/22: At least 225 people were killed, according to the Kazakhstan prosecutor general’s office. 
  4. Update 1/19/22: Russian and CSTO have stated they have withdrawn their over 2,000 troops deployed to Kazakhstan.
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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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