Peacekeeping troops from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have begun withdrawing from Kazakhstan after a short deployment to help the country’s president deal with widespread protests and violence.
The CSTO sent over 2,000 troops to Kazakhstan last week after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev asked for assistance. On Tuesday, Tokayev declared that calm was restored and described the violence as a failed coup attempt.
During the violence, the US questioned the CSTO deployment to Kazakhstan, with Secretary of State Blinken warning that once “Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.” But now it’s clear that both Tokayev and Russia are keen to end the CSTO deployment.
Also on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the CSTO troops completed their mission. “Overall, it’s time to return home. We have accomplished our task,” he said. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the withdrawal will be completed by January 19th.
The protests in Kazakhstan first started on January 2nd and were reportedly sparked by the government ending fuel subsidies. The demonstrations quickly escalated into violence, leading Tokayev to ask for CSTO assistance.