Affront to Putin – or a trick?
Russia ally Kazakhstan suddenly wants to help the EU with oil and gas
Created: 06/07/2022 05:38
By: Bettina Menzel
Vladimir Putin speaks with Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kazakhstan, at a meeting in 2019 (stock image).
© picture alliance/dpa/Kremlin |
The President of the ex-Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan phoned the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, on Monday and said he wants to help out with gas and oil in Europe's energy crisis.
What is the proposal?
Nur-Sultan - The former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan is considered an ally of Russia.
But the authoritarian ruler Kassym-Jomart Tokayev refused to recognize the eastern Ukrainian separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk at an economic forum in Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg in June.
An affront to the Kremlin.
On Monday, Tokayev offered the EU help in the energy crisis.
True Approach or a Trojan Horse?
Kazakhstan as a "buffer zone": Ex-Soviet republic wants to help EU with energy supply
Kazakhstan could form a kind of "buffer zone" to compensate for the imbalances in energy distribution between East and West and North and South, Tokayev said in a phone call with EU Council President Charles Michel.
"Kazakhstan is ready to use its hydrocarbon potential to stabilize the situation on world and European markets," Tokayev said.
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Kazakhstan has called on the EU to expand alternative transport corridors - including through the Caspian Sea.
This would allow raw materials to be delivered to Europe bypassing Russia.
The resource-rich country is part of the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military bloc.
CSTO units were ordered to the ex-Soviet republic after unrest in Kazakhstan earlier this year and helped the political leadership to stabilize the situation in their favour.
But in Kazakhstan there are also concerns about Moscow's influence.
Kazakhstan's help in the energy crisis: Trojan horse in the Ukraine war?
If the right of states to secede independently were recognized internationally, this would lead to chaos, the Kazakh president declared in June his refusal to follow Russia's example and recognize the self-proclaimed people's republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
According to a report by
The Moscow Times
, Russia then suspended the delivery of Kazakh oil.
Konstantin Zatulin, a member of the Russian Duma, even suggested an invasion of the north of the country.
"There are many cities with a predominantly Russian population that have little to do with what is called Kazakhstan," says Zatulin.
The Kazakhs have long feared Russian territorial claims to the north of their country.
Back in 2013, Vladimir Putin sparked controversy when he claimed that "Kazakhstan never had sovereignty." In the world's ninth largest country by area with around 19 million inhabitants, Russians are the largest minority at around 20 percent, according to the Kazakh state.
The crackdown on the Ukraine war worsened relations between the two countries.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was elected president of Kazakhstan in 2019.
He is attempting the balancing act between Russia and the West (archive image, 2022).
© Kazakh presidential website via www.imago-images.de
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At the summit in St. Petersburg in mid-June, President Tokayev also criticized Putin-aligned media for reporting on Kazakhstan,
The Moscow Times
So is there a real distancing from the Kremlin boss or is the public strife a spectacle?
"There are a large number of Russians who have opened offices in Kazakhstan and are channeling their funds through them," a businessman who wished to remain anonymous told Al Jazeera outlet.
So Tokayev's public criticism could also have been made in collusion with Putin in order to circumvent Western sanctions.
Kazakhstan would then be a Trojan horse through which funds could continue to flow to Russia.
But this would also benefit Kazakhstan itself economically, because after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the country produced less oil and had to reduce the forecast for economic growth from 3.9 percent to 2.1 percent, as Economics Minister Alibek Kuantyrov announced in April
(bme with Material from dpa)