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Moscow and Astana are neither together nor apart
Material posted: Pankratenko Igor N.Publication date: 05-05-2018

April 2018 became for Moscow a month unpleasant surprises from its most important strategic ally of Astana. 14 APR Kazakhstan did not support the draft resolution of Russia with a demand to condemn and stop the aggression against Syria, and abstained from voting in the UN Security Council. And two weeks later the upper house of the Parliament of Kazakhstan ratified a Protocol that allows you to use the ports Kuryk and Aktau on the Caspian sea to transport American military cargo to Afghanistan.

And if the position of Astana in the voting in the UN security Council Moscow has reacted with restraint, the "discovery" of Kazakhstan to the United States two of its ports on the Caspian sea - Aktau and Kuryk - Frank has caused irritation in the Kremlin, and close to it the expert circles and the Pro-government media.

The intensity of discontent in Moscow by the decision of Astana, as well as openly hostile and biased coverage of the incident in the Russian media has acquired such a character that the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Russia was forced to make a special statement.

The Kazakh diplomats have rightly pointed out that Russia itself had previously concluded a similar agreement with the United States and participated in the supply of special goods, which are understood as a special technique without weapons. In relation to this part of the statement, it is appropriate to note that, reminding Moscow about its cooperation with the United States in this matter, the Embassy of Kazakhstan showed the utmost restraint. In particular, refrained from memories of how the current Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin lobbied for the creation of a transit NATO base in Ulyanovsk. And even earlier, on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan under operation enduring freedom, Moscow has made every effort to ensure that Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have agreed to the deployment on its territory of airfields for the U.S. air force and members of the coalition and ISAF.

Moscow understood perfectly expressed in the statement of the Kazakhstan Embassy in the hint, and propaganda campaign against the decision of Astana was rapidly curtailed.

Referring to the history of the issue of ratification of the Protocol, it should be noted that the Agreement between Kazakhstan and the USA on the transit of military cargo for the operation in Afghanistan, train and by air - valid from 2010. Moreover, the transit is commercial, the United States paid Kazakhstan for transportation services.

From 2013, the year between Astana and Washington began talks on the possibility of using the Caspian Aktau port as a transit point of cargo movement, which, with varying degrees of intensity were carried out for several years. And ended on 21 September 2017, the year with the signing in new York of the Protocol to amend the existing between Kazakhstan and the United States "the transit Agreement", the text of which is reproduced below:

"Paragraph 2 of article 3 of the Agreement to read as follows:"2. Commercial rail transit of special cargo and accompanying staff must pass through the following checkpoints:

a) From the Russian Federation/the Russian Federation: Ileck/Zhaisan;

b) From the Republic of Uzbekistan/the Republic of Uzbekistan: Sary-Agach/Keles and/or Beineu/Karakalpakstan;

in) From the Republic of Kazakhstan/Republic of Kazakhstan: Aktau port;

g) From the Republic of Kazakhstan/Republic of Kazakhstan: Kuryk".

Thus, as a result of the changes described in this Protocol is officially approved by the new, alternative pre-existing, transit of special cargo material support U.S. troops and ISAF in Afghanistan from the territory of Azerbaijan via the Caspian sea to Kazakhstan, and then by rail to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Officially in the us documents this new route is called a "modified version of the Northern distribution network."

Moreover, according to representatives of the State Department and the U.S. Department of defense, the reason for his appearance in "military-political instability and disagreements in bilateral relations with Pakistan", through which to date went through a major route for American and international forces in Afghanistan.

Despite the fact that in official statements the Kazakh side the Protocol on amendments to Agreement with U.S. on transit there is a desire to downplay the military-political significance of this document, there is no doubt that the ratification and subsequent signing by President Nursultan Nazarbayev create a certain threat to the established security architecture in the Caspian sea. First of all, because once again returns to the region in the area of US interests.

Moreover, the signing of this document means the final design around the Caspian sea cooperation Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Georgia for the delivery of military cargoes of the USA in Afghanistan. That, in turn, form a new political-military challenge for Russia and Iran.

It would be a deep mistake to think that Astana headed for the break with Moscow. It's safe to say that Nazarbayev is still alive - the Union with Russia remains a firm constant of foreign policy of Kazakhstan. And his successors will inevitably have to take into consideration the prevailing political, economic and humanitarian ties with Russia, Astana which simply cannot be ignored.

However, the farther, the more obvious becomes the fact that a close Alliance with Moscow imposes more burdens on Kazakhstan. And because the desire to escape from these burdens, to renegotiate existing Union - becomes quite logical and expected reactions of Kazakhstan's political and business elites on recent events.

The Russian side have yet to realize that Astana is increasingly interested in how to take a great from Moscow's position on a number of foreign policy issues that the previous relations of Kazakhstan with Russia, when Moscow imposed the scheme as "a senior and a Junior partner" irrevocably leave in the past. They finally comes a more pragmatic position of Astana - the maximum distancing from the conflict between Russia and the West, the demonstration of independence in the estimates of the main international problems and the desire to monopolize the position of moderator in the dialogue of Central Asia with the outside players. We are not talking about the break-up of Astana from Moscow, but now Kazakhstan's status from "ally" will gradually be transformed into a "partner".

Moreover, these new tasks in foreign policy for Astana is much more priority than political and military obligations to other members of the CSTO.

And finally, as history has shown with the ratification of the Protocol on amendments to Agreement with U.S. on transit, Astana - as, incidentally, all other Central Asian States, fully supports the American presence in Afghanistan. Rightly believing that if not the US will not maintain stability in this country, more to do, no one can.

Igor Pankratenko

Tags: Russia , NATO , Kazakhstan

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