Kazakhstan Government Claims Russian Annexation of Crimea Is 'Free Expression of Republic's Population'
Kazakhstan's foreign ministry has announced that the Crimea referendum and the subsequent Russian annexation of the region is the "free expression of will of the autonomous republic's population", invoking the United Nations Charter in support of its claims.
In a statement released today, the Kazakhstan government said: "The referendum held in Crimea is seen in Kazakhstan as a free expression of will of the autonomous republic's population, while the decision of the Russian Federation under the existing circumstances is regarded with understanding".
"We support peaceful ways of settlement of the crisis in Ukraine and believe it should be done by means of negotiations under the aegis of the United Nations and other reputable international organizations."
The notional message of support for Russia's actions will raise concerns that the country, which declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, is moving back into the orbit of the Russian Federation.
Analysts have previously raised concerns about Kazakhstan becoming Putin's next target in his "integration project" for the Russian Federation. Breitbart News' Ben Shapiro wrote yesterday on the next four potential targets for Putin, Kazakhstan being one of them.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank said earlier this month: "Kazakhstan also has a large Russian minority population and the Russian language is set to be gradually phased out from public life...
Focus must be on checking Putin’s provocation in Ukraine and preventing him from taking another step—in Kazakhstan or anywhere else—in his reintegration project."
But writing in the Washington Post, Galymzhan Kirbassov, a doctoral candidate in the political science department at Binghamton University argued that Kazakh leaders won't be losing sleep over the issue. He wrote: "Is there any threat of Russian intervention in the future? I argue there is none as long as the government of Kazakhstan sticks to the same foreign, economic and social policies."
"...as long the current policies of non-discrimination against the minorities including Russians, assuring equal participation and representation in economy and politics, and pursuing a balanced and multi-vector foreign policy continue, the likelihood of Russian intervention should remain low."
The latest statement from the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry contrasts with its comments from earlier in March, when it urged, "a balanced, objective and responsible approach towards the situation and refrain from any actions that could provoke a further escalation of the crisis."