Kazakhstan unrest: From Russia to US, the world reacts

Bloody protests have drawn the attention of regional powers Russia and China, as well as Western capitals.

Kazakh security forces block a street in the country's main city of in Almaty
The continuing political crisis in the vast Central Asian nation, erupted during the weekend with protests sparked by a doubling in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas [Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters]

Unrest in Kazakhstan has attracted the attention of the wider region, including neighbouring Russia and China, as well as Western powers.

Dozens of people have been killed in almost a week of protests, including citizens and security forces, with frequent and intense clashes in the country’s largest city, Almaty.

On Friday, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in an ominous televised address that he had ordered troops to kill demonstrators without warning in the event of further disturbances.

The developments suggest the political crisis in the vast Central Asian nation, which began last weekend with protests against rising fuel prices, could escalate further.

Here is how the world has reacted so far:


Russia has sent troops to its ally Kazakhstan as part of peacekeeping forces deployed by the Moscow-headed Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) at the request of Tokayev, who has accused foreign-trained “terrorist gangs” of driving the unrest.

According to Eurasianet, this marks the first time CSTO’s collective security provision has been exercised.

Military units from CSTO member states Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were also being sent, the secretariat said. The organisation, of which Kazakhstan is also a member, has reportedly sent about 2,500 soldiers to Kazakhstan, while Russian military units specifically were being flown in around the clock.

Moscow has said it would consult Kazakhstan on possible further moves to support the counterterrorism operation there and echoed Kazakhstan’s claim that the protests were the result of foreign intervention.

“We regard the recent events in a friendly country as an attempt, inspired from the outside, to undermine the security and integrity of the state by force, using trained and organised armed formations,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

United Nations

The United Nations has urged political leaders and protesters in Kazakhstan to refrain from violence.

Speaking to reporters in New York on Wednesday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the world body was monitoring the unfolding situation.

“It’s very important for all involved in these current events to exercise restraint, refrain from violence and promote dialogue,” he said.

On Thursday UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet urged all sides to seek a peaceful resolution to their grievances.

“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,” Bachelet said in a statement, as she called for the release of all those detained solely for exercising their right to peaceful protest.

European Union

The 27-member European Union has called on Russia to respect Kazakhstan’s sovereignty and independence as Moscow deploys paratroopers to the former Soviet republic.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, also urged restraint on all sides.

“The violence must be stopped. We are also calling for restraint from all parties and a peaceful resolution of the situation. Now obviously, the EU is ready and willing to support a dialogue in the country,” an EU spokesperson said on Thursday.

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said Russia’s military intervention brought back “memories of situations to be avoided”.

Reiterating the bloc’s concerns, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron called on Friday for an end to the ongoing violence.

“Citizens’ rights and security are fundamental and must be guaranteed. I call for an end to the violence and for restraint. The European Union is ready to help where it can,” von der Leyen told reporters in Paris alongside Macron, who said he agreed with her comments.

United States

Washington said it is “closely following” the situation and called for authorities and protesters to exercise restraint.

“We ask for all Kazakhstanis to respect and defend constitutional institutions, human rights, and media freedom, including through the restoration of internet service,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Wednesday, citing a reported nationwide internet blackout.

“We urge all parties to find a peaceful resolution of the state of emergency,” he added.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed claims that the US was driving the protests in Kazakhstan – allegations she accused Moscow of spreading.

“There are some crazy Russian claims about the US being behind this, so let me just use this opportunity to convey that as absolutely false and clearly a part of the standard Russian disinformation playbook we’ve seen a lot of in past years,” she told reporters at a news briefing.


China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday praised the Kazakhstan government’s deadly crackdown on protesters as “highly responsible” in a message to Kazakh leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, state media reported.

“You decisively took strong measures at critical moments and quickly calmed down the situation, showing your position of responsibility and sense of duty as a politician, and of being highly responsible for your country and your people,” Xi told Tokayev in the message, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

United Kingdom

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the United Kingdom is “concerned” by the escalating unrest.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Truss said, “Our thoughts are with those who have lost their lives in what has happened, and we condemn the acts of violence and destruction of property in Almaty.”

Truss added the UK government would be “coordinating further” with its allies to decide on possible further steps.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told his Kazakh counterpart Tokayev that Ankara stands in solidarity with Kazakhstan amid the continuing protests there, the Turkish presidency said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Erdogan’s office said he had informed Tokayev during a phone call that Turkey was closely monitoring developments and that he hoped tensions would ease as soon as possible, while also offering “all forms of technical information and experience” if needed.

Erdogan also discussed the developments in Kazakhstan with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, and said he believed the crisis would be resolved through dialogue, his office said.


Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko urged protesters in Kazakhstan to end their demonstrations.

During a government meeting on Thursday, Lukashenko said those taking to the streets should reason with Kazakhstan’s president instead, calling Tokayev a “normal person” and “a diplomat who can be reasoned with”.

The Belarusian leader also claimed that the situation in Kazakhstan was a scenario that was avoided in Belarus following a disputed 2020 election that handed him a sixth term in office. Belarus’s opposition denounced the poll as rigged.


France has urged restraint from all parties in Kazakhstan, including the troops deployed by the CSTO, and called the reports of bloodshed in Almaty “extremely worrying”.

“We urge all parties – both in Kazakhstan and within framework of the CSTO – to show moderation and open a dialogue,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Paris on Thursday.


Germany called for de-escalation in Kazakhstan after President Tokayev issued the country’s troops with an order to fire on demonstrators without warning in the event of further disturbances.

“Violence can never be an appropriate response,” government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said on Friday. Hoffman added that Germany was urging all parties involved to “reach a peaceful solution to the situation”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies