The US is keeping a close eye on the deployment of peacekeeping troops from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Kazakhstan, the White House said Thursday.
The CSTO sent peacekeepers to Kazakhstan to help President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to deal with massive violent protests that have swept the country. But White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she wasn’t sure if the invitation was “legitimate.”
“We are closely monitoring reports that the Collective Security Treaty Organization have dispatched its collective peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan,” Psaki said. “We have questions about the nature of this request and whether it has — it was a legitimate invitation or not. We don’t know at this point.”
Kazakhstan is a member of the CSTO, and Tokayev made the request for the alliance’s assistance. So the US has no reason to think the invitation wasn’t legitimate unless Washington doesn’t view the Kazakh government as legitimate.
The protests started on January 2nd and quickly escalated into violence. The Kazakh Interior Ministry said Thursday that 18 police officers and national guard members had been killed, and over 700 wounded, Russia’s Tass news agency reported. The Kazakh police said they have killed dozens of protesters who tried to storm government buildings. “The dozens of attackers were eliminated, their identities are being established,” a police official said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi about the violence on Thursday. According to the State Department, Blinken reiterated “the United States’ full support for Kazakhstan’s constitutional institutions and media freedom and advocated for a peaceful, rights-respecting resolution to the crisis.”
Considering Washington’s history of meddling in countries near Russia and supporting uprisings around the world, there is reason to suspect US involvement in Kazakhstan’s unrest.