Russia-led alliance begins troop pullout from Kazakhstan
Troops from a Russia-led military alliance started withdrawing from Kazakhstan on Thursday after intervening in a violent uprising that has led to the deaths of dozens of individuals.
“Thanks to your arrival, Kazakh military and security forces were able to carry out their immediate task of locating and detaining bandits,” Kazakh Deputy Defense Minister Mukhamedzhan Talasov told Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) troops at a departure ceremony, Reuters reported.
Tokayev asked for assistance from the CSTO last week after initially peaceful protests, which were triggered by an increase in fuel prices, turned violent. People were seen burning and looting buildings in the city of Almaty as well as attacking officers.
Authorities arrested more than 10,000 people during the protests.
Kazakh and Russian authorities blamed the protest on foreign terrorists, without providing evidence. Kazakh authorities announced Wednesday the completion of an “anti-terrorist operation” in most of the country, Reuters noted.
The alliance has said it may take about 10 days for the troops to withdraw, according to the news service, and Tokayev said no foreign troops will remain in the country after Jan. 23. Russia sent 2,030 troops and 250 pieces of military hardware to the country.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, has expressed concerns over the Russian deployment, saying that “once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.”