CSTO troops to complete withdrawal from Kazakhstan by January 19, Russian Defense Minister says
The withdrawal from Kazakhstan Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) peacekeeping forces, which began on Thursday, January 13, will end by next Wednesday, January 19, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We start the withdrawal today. Tomorrow […] we will withdraw all of the forces of our colleagues — of Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus. [Our] Kyrgyzstani colleagues are leaving on their own, taking into account that they are nearby. Later, within five days, as the facilities are transferred, the withdrawal of the remaining peacekeeping forces will be carried out. We plan to complete all the work by the nineteenth,” Shoygu said on Thursday, according to the Kremlin’s website.
In turn, Putin underscored the importance of the fact that, with the help of CSTO peacekeepers, rule of law was restored in Kazakhstan.
“This is the first such operation by CSTO forces. Together, we have completed a very important task. This will allow the leadership of the Republic of Kazakhstan to resolve issues of a socio-economic and political nature in a free, calm manner, in dialogue with society. This is very important,” Putin said.
“In general, they need to return home — we’ve fulfilled our task,” the Russian president added.
On January 2, a twofold increase in fuel prices sparked protests that spread across Kazakhstan. On January 5, Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev blamed the ongoing unrest on “international terrorist gangs” and appealed to the CSTO for help “in overcoming this terrorist threat.”
The organization deployed peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan to guard key government facilities and help prop up local law enforcement. In total, according to a statement from CSTO member states, roughly 2,000 troops arrived in Kazakhstan.