Kazakhstan distances itself from Putin’s war on Ukraine
Kazakhstan’s foreign minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi has said his government will not recognise the independence of Russian-controlled Luhansk and Donetsk, in apparent solidarity with Ukraine.
He, however, said Kazakhstan had not joined western efforts to sanction Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
“It is important for us to prevent negative effects of the sanctions on the development of our economy, and it is important that our territory is not used to evade those sanctions,” Tileuberdi told Radio Free Europe.
Kazakhstan abstained on two UN resolutions condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Tileuberdi said abstaining took “into account Kazakhstan’s national interests”.
On February 24, Moscow recognised Luhansk and Donetsk as independent and justified its invasion of Ukraine claiming it was defending the regions which have been held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
Kazakhstan has not openly criticised the Russian invasion but in March Kazakhstan sent a humanitarian shipment to Ukraine, proclaiming ”Ukraine, we are with you”.
Oil export problems
Kazakhstan has cut its annual oil output and economic growth forecasts because of the war in Ukraine.
Economy minister Alibek Kuantyrov said on Tuesday Kazakhstan expected to produce 85.7 million tonnes of crude oil this year, 1.8 million tonnes below the previous projection.
“This will be offset by the higher prices,” Kuantyrov told the media, adding that the economic growth forecast for 2022 was being cut from 3.9 to 2.1 per cent.
But storm damage is restricting Kazakh oil exports while the economy should be benefiting from high prices. The Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) stated that two of three tanker loading bays at Russia’s Black Sea port of Novorossiysk may be inoperable for around two months.
Last year Kazakhstan exported 67.6 million tonnes of oil with more than 53 million tonnes of it was pumped through the CPC.
There are also questions about the extent of the storm damage as western majors Chevron and Exxon, which have stakes in CPC, were denied access to inspect the Russian port.
The embattled Kazakh authorities will have been hoping for growth to recover following a 2.6-per-cent GDP contraction during 2020 because of Covid. Growth recovered to 4 per cent last year.
It appears unlikely that a similar rate will be maintained in 2022, especially amid international sanctions targeting Kazakhstan’s main trading partner, Russia.
But the Kazakh authorities say they will follow most international sanctions.
Presidential aide Timur Suleimenov said on March 29: “Even though we are part of the economic union with Russia, Belarus and other countries, we are also part of the international community. Therefore, the last thing we want is secondary sanctions of the US and the EU to be applied to Kazakhstan.”
Kazakhstan appears willing to differentiate itself from Putin’s war but oil exports will be an issue. Picture credit: Wikimedia