The Collective Rapid Reaction Forces of the CSTO (CRRF) are sent on a combat mission for the first time in history. Units of peacekeepers from Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan are currently being transferred to Kazakhstan, where large-scale street riots have been raging for several days. The task of the international contingent is to stop the bloodshed and secure the country’s key infrastructure. Details – in the material RIA Novosti.
The CSTO Collective Security Council responded to the request for help as quickly as possible. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made a formal request to the Organizati-on’s allies to help deal with the crisis on Wednesday a-fternoon. And on Thursday morning the first planes of the military transport aviation of the CRRF landed at the country’s airfields. The peacekeepers began to carry out their tasks.
The CSTO member states sent the best of the best to Kazakhstan. On behalf of Russia, units of the 98th Guards Airborne Division (Ivanovo) and the 31st Separate Guards Airborne Assault Brigade (Ulyanovsk) are involved in the peacekeeping operation. These units are the elite of the country’s Armed Forces. They are fully manned by contract soldiers, armed and equipped with the latest technology. In addition, the paratroopers have repeatedly taken part in exercises at the training grounds in Kazakhstan. This means that Moscow has long worked out the procedure for their transfer and combat deployment.
Other members of the CSTO also did not skimp on professional peacekeepers. Thus, Belarus will involve soldiers of the 103rd Guards Airborne Brigade of the Special Operations Forces in the operation, Kyrgyzstan is deploying units of the 25th Scorpion Special Forces Brigade to the Kazakh border, Tajikistan and Armenia will send relatively small but well-trained special forces contingents. The total number of CSTO peacekeepers, according to preliminary estimates, will be about four thousand servicemen. The largest part of them is expected to be Russians.
“This is truly an unprecedented decision by the CSTO,” Yulia Nikitina, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council, told RIA Novosti. “It is unprecedented in its speed of decision-making. the standard procedure for discussing the issue was violated. The question came to Russia as the presiding state at that time, and not to the CSTO Secretariat. Then the riots ended quickly enough – within a week, and the CSTO provided technical assistance to the law enforcement agencies. “
Help for security officials
It is still unclear what tasks the CRRF units will perform and who their potential adversaries will be. When the Russian pea-cekeepers were deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2020, it was very clear what they had to do – separating the warring parties in different “corners of the ring” and ensuring a ceasefire regime on the contact line.
In Kazakhstan, there is no clearly defined front line. As a reminder, Presi-dent Kassym-Jomart Toka-yev publicly stated that fighters from international terrorist organizations had invaded Kazakhstan. How-ever, so far none of them has taken responsibility for what is happening. It is obvious that the peacekeepers will not replace the Kazakh security forces and will not disperse gangs of marauders in cities and villages for them. Their task is different.
“I don’t think that the CSTO troops will be engaged in the fight against riots,” military expert Boris Rozhin said. “The main task is to take control of key roads, infrastructure facilities, enterprises. And thus free the forces of the Kazakh security forces to work on the hotbeds of the ongoing riot. Checkpoints are set up on the roads to inspect cars for weapons and loot. stabilizing and supporting. And the Kazakhs themselves will have to cleanse the cities. “
Moscow will obviously not abandon an ally. Firstly, the Baikonur cosmodrome and the Sary-Shagan rocket testing ground are located in Kazakhstan. Both facilities are of colossal importance for the development of the Russian space program and missile defense systems, respectively. It would be a crime to give them up to a raging crowd. Second, there are hundreds of Russian commercial enterprises operating in Kazakhstan. Finally, thirdly, millions of Russian-speaking citizens live in the northern regions of the country. And the protection of their compatriots abroad, the Russian authorities have repeatedly called one of their top priorities.
Threat from the South
Mass protests in Kazakhstan began in the early days of 2022. Then the residents of the cities of Zhanaozen and Aktau in the Mangistau region – an oil-producing region in the west of the country – opposed a two-fold increase in prices for liquefied petroleum gas, then the protests spread to other cities. In Alma-Ata, the old capital of the republic, on January 4 and 5, clashes with security forces occurred, the police used gas and stun grenades. Throughout Kazakhstan, the Internet was turned off, and the broadcasting of a number of TV channels was temporarily stopped.
On January 5, Tokayev introduced a state of emergency for two weeks in the Mangistau and Alma-Ata regions, Alma-Ata and Nur-Sultan. This regime provides, in particular, a curfew from 23:00 to 7:00, a ban on holding mass events, strikes and the sale of weapons, as well as strengthening the protection of especially important facilities. On the same day, the state of emergency – also until January 19 – was extended to the entire territory of Kazakhstan.
The country’s authorities really have something to worry about. The rioters managed to seize the arsenals of many police stations and even storm the wea-pons of the Almaty branch of the National Security Committee. “Trunks” are openly distributed to protesters in the squares from the trunk of cars. And where now this “hardware” will emerge is unknown. However, it is already clear that the protest is rapidly radicalizing.
On Thursday morning, the Kazakh authorities reported that several decapitated bodies of security officials had been found in Alma-Ata. It is no secret that executing prisoners in such a barbaric way is a long tradition of Islamic extremists. A country engulfed in street riots and civil war is an ideal breeding ground for terrorists of all colors and stripes. This means that the situation in Kazakhstan can quickly get out of control.