Kazakh president refuses to recognise Russian-held ‘republics’ in Ukraine
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev caused an uncomfortable moment for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin when he said his giant Central Asian state would not recognise Russia’s “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The two strongmen leaders were sharing a stage at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum when moderator Margarita Simonyan of the Kremlin-mouthpiece Russia Today (RT) mentioned the war in Ukraine.
Putin said the new autonomous status of the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk protected the rights of Russian speakers in what is internationally recognised as Ukrainian territory.
Tokayev, however, said Donetsk and Luhansk were “quasi-states” and there would be global chaos if hundreds of new countries emerged at random based on claims of ethnicity.
Kazakhstan did not recognise Taiwan, Kosovo, South Ossetia or Abkhazia and the same applied to Donetsk and Luhansk, the 69-year-old said.
“There would be chaos in the world if hundreds of new countries emerged, even as there is a conflict between the legal principles of territorial integrity of states and the right of people living in them to self-determination,” Tokayev said.
He also stressed the challenges caused by increased destabilisation.
“Global shocks associated with the pandemic and increasing geopolitical tensions have led to a new reality. Globalisation has been replaced by an era of regionalisation with all its virtues and inherent flaws. Anyway, the process of reformatting traditional economic models and trade routes is accelerating. The world is changing rapidly. Unfortunately, in most cases, not for the better,” the Kazakh president told the forum.
Putin told the Russian-dominated gathering that the former Soviet Union covered the same territory as “historical Russia”. He also referred to Kazakhstan but then immediately said Russia would not damage its ties with its sprawling “fraternal” neighbour.
Putin sent his armed forces to Kazakhstan in January to help crush anti-government protests, leading observers to believe he had bought Tokayev’s loyalty. The Kazakh leader has, however, been vocally critical of Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Tokayev has told the Russian media that the Collective Security Treaty Organisation deployment did not fire a single bullet while in Kazakhstan and left within 10 days.
The St Petersburg event was Russian-dominated because of the sanctions surrounding Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah As-Sisi participated online and Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a video message to participants.
Enormous damage has been done to Donetsk and Luhansk since the 2014 Russian invasion. Picture credit: Pikist