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West trying to drive wedge between Russia, Kazakhstan: Moscow

Russia says Western countries manipulate public opinion in Kazakhstan and support ‘nationalist’ sentiments.

Russia’s Security Council has accused the West of trying to drive a wedge between Russia and Kazakhstan by interfering in the affairs of sovereign nations, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.

The comments, published Friday, come as Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev visits Kazakhstan to meet with his counterparts across the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

“The United States and its allies are trying to support nationalist sentiments, spreading lies, manipulating public opinion through the Internet and social networks,” TASS quoted Patrushev’s deputy in Almaty, Alexander Shevtsov, as saying.

Oil-rich Kazakhstan, Russia’s longtime ally and close economic partner, has tread carefully since Moscow’s troops invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Kazakh officials have called for diplomacy to end the regular fighting The country will abide by — but not join — Western sanctions against Russia.

Kazakh citizens have provided assistance to Ukrainians, and when President Vladimir Putin ordered partial mobilization in 2022, many young Russian men who did not want to serve fled to Kazakhstan.

Observers, however, say that beneath the surface, Kazakhstan is trying to distance itself from Russia’s sphere of influence.

This month, the Kazakh government said President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev would not attend the annual economic forum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Instead, Almaty said, lower-level officials would participate without explanation.

At last year’s forum, Tokayev shared the stage with Putin and said Kazakhstan would not recognize the independence of pro-Russian statelets in eastern Ukraine or other former Soviet republics.

His comments raised eyebrows because Kazakhstan, which shares the world’s longest continuous land border with Russia, has been a member of the Moscow-led security and trade bloc for decades and calls Russia its strategic partner.

On Wednesday, Kazakhstan – a longtime host of Syria peace talks involving Russia, Turkey and Iran – unexpectedly offered to end the process.

The Central Asian country has hosted such meetings since 2017.

Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Kanat Tumish called for the conclusion of the tripartite talks, saying their goal had been achieved.

“Syria’s gradual emergence from isolation in the region can be considered a sign that the Astana process has finished its work,” he told reporters.

“Considering Syria’s return to the Arab family, we formally propose to declare the 20th meeting under the Astana process as final.”

And on Monday, Kazakhstan canceled a concert featuring Russian singer Grigory Leps after a backlash about his support for the invasion of Ukraine.

At the UN, Kazakhstan largely chose to abstain rather than support Moscow on the Ukraine war vote.

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