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Blinken calls for ‘peaceful’ resolution to crisis in Kazakhstan

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on September 14, 2021. Blinken was questioned about the Biden administration's handling of the U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Kazakhstan’s top diplomat on Thursday and called for a “peaceful, rights-respecting resolution” to deadly protests in the country while also raising concern about Russian intervention.   

Kazakhstan is a strategic U.S. partner in Central Asia, with its largest border alongside Russia in the north and the country a gateway for American efforts in Afghanistan.  

Blinken spoke with Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi where he reiterated U.S. support for Kazakhstan’s “constitutional institutions and media freedom,” amid reports of internet blackouts alongside mass protests marked by violence and clashes with security forces.  

The protests, initially spurred by a steep rise in liquified natural gas prices earlier this week, escalated dramatically and grew into mass opposition to the three-decade influence of former Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who up until the protests had remained the head of the country’s powerful Security Council.

Nazarbayev was dismissed from his position as the head of the Security Council on Wednesday by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to quell the protests. Tokayev’s Cabinet also resigned.   

Russian-led peacekeeping forces comprising of soldiers from former Soviet states are being deployed to the country in response to a request from Tokayev to “stabilize and normalize” the situation, Armenian President Nikol Pashinyan posted on Facebook.   

Both security officials and protesters have been killed amid mass protests, according to reports, with gruesome details included of beheadings and mass killings. Thousands more have reported to be injured. 

The Russian-led response to the unrest poses a key challenge for the U.S., which is trying to unite allies in a position of strength against Moscow over its buildup of troops on the border with Ukraine, raising fears of an invasion of a sovereign nation.   

Blinken, in his call with the Kazakhstani foreign minister, reportedly raised the priority of promoting stability in Europe, including support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in response to Russian aggression.

Tags Antony Blinken Armenia gas prices Kazakhstan killings Protests Russia uprising
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