Putin facing huge ex-Soviet rebellion: Kremlin terrified as tensions boil over

Putin urges West to agree to security guarantees over Nato

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Kazakhstan saw riots break out over doubling fuel prices for liquid petroleum gas, used by many citizens to fill up their cars. The protests quickly spiralled into anti-government demonstrations, with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev petitioning the Collective Security Treaty Organisation for help.

The Collective Security Treaty Organisation, headquartered in Moscow, is an alliance that includes several states of the former Soviet Union.

Russian paratroopers, or “peacekeeping forces”, arrived in Kazakhstan after reports of civilian and police casualties in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty.

The protests were the most violent since the country gained independence over three decades ago.

Dr Rasmus Nilsson, lecturer in Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, told Express.co.uk that Putin will be preoccupied by uprisings in any proximity to Russian borders.

He said: “Vladimir Putin is undoubtedly concerned about any kind of socio-political disturbance in a neighbouring country.

“In regards to Kazakhstan, Putin’s worries are magnified given the extensive and porous border between Russia and Kazakhstan, but also because Kazakhstan has so far been a relatively stable buffer between Russia and periodically volatile Central Asian states (and Afghanistan, a bit further to the south).”

Dr Nilsson added that Putin may have weighed up the potential domino effect of a snowballing dissenting movement in Kazakhstan, saying although Russia itself was not likely to see a similar outbreak of protests, the same may not apply across the ex-Soviet states nearby.

He said: “Apart from such international concerns, Putin might also have considered how a successful rebellion in Kazakhstan could be copied elsewhere in the post-Soviet region or even in Russia itself.”

The dissent was squashed by Russian paramilitary forces, with over 160 people dying and over 8,000 people were arrested in what the Kazakh president called an “attempted coup d’etat”.

Tokayev added: “It became clear that the main goal was to undermine the constitutional order and to seize power.”

President Tokayev said last week that he had authorised security forces to shoot to kill without warning.

Putin claimed the unrest was the result of foreign intervention, saying at a CSTO conference: “The events in Kazakhstan are not the first and far from the last attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of our states from the outside.”

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Putin said the military alliance spearheaded by Russia had prevented “terrorists, criminals, looters and other criminal elements” from undermining the government of Kazakhstan, adding that Russian forces will be withdrawn when their mission is complete.

He continued: “The measures taken by the CSTO have clearly shown we will not allow the situation to be rocked at home.”

This comes as negotiations get under way in Geneva between Russia and the US over Ukraine, as the West looks on nervously to the 100,000 Russian troops amassed at the Ukrainian border.

Russia has demanded a guarantee that Ukraine will never become a member of NATO, and other assurances cemented in containing NATO’s expansion eastward.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, pointed to Russia’s military presence of around 100,000 on the border with Ukraine, telling CNN that the negotiations were a crunch moment for dealings with Russia.

He said: “There are two paths before us.

“There’s a path of dialogue and diplomacy to try to resolve some of these differences and avoid a confrontation.

“The other path is confrontation and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression on Ukraine.”

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