Kazakhstan drifting away from the orbit of Russia?
By Sibtain Khan
Russia is in hot water since its adventurism in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin started this adventurism when he was in the middle of expanding his Custom Union—the long time dream of Putin.
All was well for two major partners of Custom Union till Ruble (Russian currency) started drifting down. These two partners are Belarus and Kazakhstan. Now this are different for both partners but one has energy, resources and its huge size to drift away from Russian orbit that is of course Kazakhstan.
The recent visit of French President Francois Hollande to Astana and signing of new contract with France is a success story for Kazakhstan while France has refused to give long awaited fleet to Russia who had bought this fleet but is fail to enjoy it.
According to French as well as Kazakh media, the talks in Astana and Almaty were aimed at helping advance the strategic partnership between the two nations in business, science, education and international politics.
“France is a leading trade partner of our country. More than 100 companies with French capital currently operate in Kazakhstan. There are numerous joint ventures and dozens of new projects being implemented. I am glad you are accompanied by a large group of businesspeople and I am confident our meeting will influence the future of our relations,” Nazarbayev said as he received his guest in the Akorda presidential residence. President Hollande confirmed the high priority he put on the visit to Astana.
Hollande flown to Russia while going back to Paris and met Russian President Vladimir Putin at airport. This meeting was unscheduled and interesting as both heads of state did not discuss Mistral issue that is actually very important issue for Russia indeed. What they discussed then? French media believes that Hollande landed at Moscow airport on the request/advice of Kazakh President Nazarbayev who wished to send a message to Putin that he (Nazarbayev) wishes to help solve Russian-French tension. This was a good move from Kazakh President if it was really the force behind Putin-Hollande meeting. However, Russia media is considering that Kazakhstan wishes to come out of the orbit of Russia when Russian economy is sinking and oil prices are going down. Russia media consider the latest address of Nursultan Nazarbayev to his nation is also a part of this new strategy in which Nazarbayev indicates that he will keep following the path of development but in a different way and talked about development of medium and small industries. That indicates that he understands oil selling is no more worth business for some next years and country has to move to a new direction before his economy also gets aftershocks of Ruble collapse.
In his address to the nation on November 11 he indicated that recent international geopolitical tensions have had a strong negative impact on countries all over the world, many of which have not yet fully recovered from economic crises of 2008 and 2009. He indicated to Russian economy while not naming Russia.
The latest address was dedicated to Kazakhstan’s new economic policy Nurly Zhol (“The Path to the Future”). According to President Nazarbayev, modern turbulent conditions required a rapid reaction from the government and an urgent revision of country’s current economic and political strategies. As a result, the government came up with a revised and refreshed set of strategies that is NurlyZhol.
Central Asian and Eastern European experts claim that this “Rapid Reaction” is actually a strategy to drifting away from Custom Union and Mr. Putin. Forthcoming months will indicate what real new strategy of Kazakhstan will have because January 2015 will bring a new dimension to Custom Union.
Sibtain Khan is researcher currently studying in Beacon House University Mass Media Department. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.