What did Armenian troops do in Kazakhstan?
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has officially asked the Collective Security Treaty Organization to end its “peacekeeping” mission in the country, after the organization sent military assistance when protests over the proposed increase in gas prices turned violent.
Tokayev sent a written request to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who is the current chairman of the CSTO Collective Security Council.
This procedural matter is scheduled to be discussed on Thursday, when a special session of CSTO Defense Ministers will convene virtually. The withdrawal of troops will begin on Thursday and is expected to last 10 days, according to the group’s spokesperson Vladimir Zaynetdinov, the Tass news agency reported.
Anti-government demonstrations protesting the increase in gas prices quickly turned violent, prompting Tokayev to call on the CSTO last week to intervene. Less than 24 hours later, Russia pledged to send troops to Kazakhstan and Pashinyan followed on Friday by committing 100 troops to the so-called “peacekeeping” efforts.
Pashinyan, as the rotating chair of the Russia-led organization, convened a virtual meeting on the group’s member-state leaders and was quick to praise the effectiveness of mission—the first in the organization’s history.
Yet the CSTO refused Armenia’s appeal for assistance twice. The first was during the 44-Day war and the second was issued in May, when Azerbaijani forces breached Armenia’s borders and advance their positions in the Gegharkunik and Syunik provinces. The latest Azerbaijani attack on Tuesday resulted in the death of three Armenian soldiers.
Tokayev on Wednesday met with CSTO Secretary-General Stansilav Zas, who traveled to Kazakhstan to assess the situation on the ground.
The public protests were quickly framed by Tokayev and echoed by CSTO leaders—including Armenia—as being led by terrorist groups who sought to sow discord in the Central Asian republic. Presumably this was devised in order to warrant military intervention by the group.
“The current situation, once again, confirmed the value of the organization as a military political structure. I think that the entire international community is now talking about the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The effectiveness of the organization in this situation was very obvious,” Tokayev said praising the group.
With the CSTO mission declared a success and completed, Russia media began disseminating reports about the role of the soldiers in the process.
The commander of Armenia’s 100-person force, Major Hayrapet Mkrtchyan, told reporters that one the key objectives of the Armenian unit was to prevent so-called “terrorists” from poisoning the water supply in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city.
“One of the main tasks at the Druzhba water supply facility was the prevention of the water [supply] from being poisoned,” the Tass news agency quoted Mkrtchyan as saying. According to the commander, the water supply facility is a strategic building and quite possibly it could have been targeted for contamination by the terrorists.
In addition to safeguarding the water processing plant, the Armenian peacekeepers were also guarding one of the largest bread factories in Almaty.
A report on the Russian Rossia 24 channel stated that the CSTO peacekeepers are guarding the bread factory because it is “literally feeding the entire population of the city.”
Seyran Kocharyan, an Armenian peacekeeper, told Rossia 24 that the residents of Almaty and the staff of the bakery plant welcomed them and “appreciate their mission.”