Why Kazakhstan is calling NATO to the Caspian sea

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Зачем Казахстан зовет НАТО на Каспий

Recently Kazakhstan and the U.S. signed another Five-year military cooperation plan for the years 2018-2022. The document was signed in Washington during the bilateral consultations on defense between Kazakhstan and the United States. The Ministry of defence of Kazakhstan also informs that during the visit, the military delegation of Kazakhstan was held a meeting with representatives of the Ministry of defense, National guard Bureau, U.S. Army and the National defense University of the United States. The delegation was headed by Deputy Minister of defense of Kazakhstan Lieutenant-General Talgat Mukhtar.

During the previous similar programs, with the assistance of the American side we have created in Kazakhstan peacekeeping unit “Kazbrig”. The unit has passed the assessment of the NATO compatibility, is working on certification of the unit by UN experts.

As for the details, recently signed the document, their content is not disclosed. However, according to the newspaper “Pravda.ru”, sources close to bilateral negotiations, misleading: we are talking about the US program for training qualified personnel for the army of Kazakhstan.

In addition, the country is considered an ally of Russia, is interested in creating their own Navy in the Caspian sea. And this, as suggested by the observer of “the Truth.ru” Aydin Mehdiyev, Astana will help US. Moreover, in the future we can not exclude the possibility of creating a naval base of the USA in the Caspian sea.

How realistic is this scenario?

As long as Kazakhstan is a CSTO member, no, even the most symbolic naval base on the Caspian sea can not appear, — says columnist TASS, a retired Colonel Viktor Litovkin. The Caspian sea is a closed sea, so the U.S. military presence can cause strong objections from not only Russia but also other countries — Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan. The Caspian sea, in principle, is divided into sectors, while Iran has objections. NATO or American ships can not to appear there without Russia’s consent, because to get them is possible only through the Volga-don canal. And air-combat ship is not reset. Kazakhstan cooperates with the United States in the military-technical issues — is his own sovereign right, as long as it does not harm the collective security Treaty.

Yes, of Kazakhstan, apparently, wishes to receive from U.S. gun boat “second hand”. He already received them from the Americans. It is the right of Kazakhstan. It is not possible to build your craft or get them from Russia. We do not have time to re-equip its own fleet, so we have no way to build something for a neighboring state.

With regard to the training of officers in the U.S., of course, it’s not good from the point of view of Russia. But this is also not an issue, which is to doubt the reliability of Astana as an ally. By the way, Kazakh officers trained in Turkey, Italy and other countries.

“SP”: — We know that Uzbekistan withdrew from the CSTO. If you imagine that the change of power in Kazakhstan will go on his way…

— Of course, we cannot rule it out. But in the Kazakhstani elite realize that in the struggle with radical Islam, they have no more reliable ally than Russia.

On the other hand, Kazakhstan has before his eyes the experience of Kyrgyzstan in the territory of which housed a U.S. military base. Not so long ago the President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev admitted that he was warned that on this basis can be applied to a missile strike. He did not say who tipped him off, but this was a serious argument in order to refuse the deployment of U.S. military at Manas.

— If you do not touch the military sphere, Kazakhstan’s cooperation with Europe and the United States all post-Soviet years was maintained at a fairly serious level, — says Deputy head of the Department of state policy MSU named after M. V. Lomonosov Maksim Vilisov. — The intensity of this cooperation is not reduced. In this case, and with Russia in Kazakhstan to curtail contacts not collected. In this sense, Kazakhstan is a multi-vector policy.

In the military sphere of Kazakhstan has long been cooperating with the US. Moreover, Washington has developed and is implementing its political-military strategy regarding the countries of Central Asia. In recent years, its implementation was somewhat chilled, but it is possible that when Donald trump it will be revised and will be implemented more actively.

I don’t think we should be wary of contacts of the Kazakh and the us military, however, this process must be kept under surveillance. Kazakhstan is our military ally in the CSTO. He has certain obligations, beyond which it can carry out any military-technical cooperation with the United States and China, any other country.

As I understand it, today we are not talking about what is Kazakhstan going in some form to join NATO. In the world today the trend is toward diversification of contacts in the military and military-political sphere. The most recent example is Turkey which, as a NATO member, however, seriously considering the purchase of Russian missile systems s-400.

“SP”: — That is the scenario in which Kazakhstan will make it a priority to join NATO, unrealistic?

Is not primarily in the interests of security of the Kazakhstan. First, Kazakhstan is very tightly tied to the Russian economy in the framework of the Eurasian Union. Economically Russia can compete with China. But the China factor makes Astana to be very low-key. Since Kazakhstan is in the buffer zone between Russia and China, therefore, is forced to maneuver to avoid the excessive influence of one of the mighty powers.

In addition, in Astana there is an understanding that Kazakhstan at the moment the real threat comes not from any specific States, but from radical Islamic groups. In this sense, for Kazakhstan the most reliable ally is Russia. Because here we have the same interests. Russia is interested in Kazakhstan remained friendly state so we can work together to protect its southern borders. In this sense, in the short and medium term it is unlikely there will be any changes. Although the local aspects I do not rule out that Kazakhstan may use the factor of military cooperation with the United States in bargaining with Russia on controversial points.

“SP”: — on the other hand, it is known that in Kazakhstan the elite strong nationalist sentiments. The current President is in quite an advanced age. Isn’t there a risk that with the change of the leader of the political emphasis in Kazakhstan has changed?

— In Kazakhstan can not take into account the experience of Ukraine. They see that, despite the fact that Kiev is fully turned to the West, constantly asking for help, shouts to the world about the Russian aggression, serious military help from the West Ukraine is still not received. Kazakhstan in this sense is even less interesting to the European Union and the United States, it is as far from Europe. It may be of interest only in the case that Central Asia will be a serious source of instability that Russia can not, or will not, exert drastic influence. Only in this case the US can really intervene, as it did in Afghanistan in 2001.

As for the nationalists, who are really influential in the country, they understand that the Kazakh society is very heterogeneous, and the full reversal in the direction of the West may be negatively perceived by many citizens, especially religious layers. The only option where Kazakhstan can form an Alliance with the US and NATO is to weaken Russia, which she can’t influence the situation in the region or to guarantee allied assistance Astana.

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