Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden are watching on with bated breath as Putin amasses 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, and sends Russian paratroopers to quash anti-government protests in bordering Kazakhstan. The Central Asian state saw riots break out over doubling fuel prices for liquid petroleum gas, used by many citizens to fill up their cars. The protests quickly spiralled into anti-government demonstrations, with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev petitioning the Collective Security Treaty Organisation for help.
The Collective Security Treaty Organisation, headquartered in Moscow, is an alliance that includes several states of the former Soviet Union.
Russian paratroopers, or “peacekeeping forces” arrived in Kazakhstan after reports of civilian and police casualties in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty.
The protests were the most violent since the country gained independence over three decades ago.
Dr Rasmus Nilsson, lecturer in Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, told Express.co.uk that the Western countries watching events unfold in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have a responsibility to be a watchdog where human rights and liberties are threatened.
He said: “The West should seek as much information as possible about developments in Kazakhstan and, in particular, ensure that acts of Kazakh authorities (and their allies) are fully exposed and, where necessary, challenged or even condemned.
“Kazakhstan has signed up to a multitude of international agreements requiring observation of human rights and rule-of-law, even in times of emergency.”
The Kazakh president said last week that he had authorised security forces to shoot to kill without warning.
The dissent was squashed by Russian paramilitary forces, with over 160 people dying and over 8,000 people were arrested in what the Kazakh president called an “attempted coup d’etat”.
READ MORE: Police raids after doctor hands out fake vaccine certificates
Tokayev added: “It became clear that the main goal was to undermine the constitutional order and to seize power.”
Dr Nilsson continued: “If the Kazakh authorities – or individuals within the elite – do not observe provisions in these agreements, Western repercussions could follow.”
These consequences, he added, could include the “suspension of Kazakhstan from some international institutions”- which is a crucial “marker of legitimacy for the Kazakh regime”- or the paralysis of the country’s state assets in Western countries.
“Maybe such measures will not be necessary, but it should be made clear to the Kazakh leadership that significant breaches of human rights will have international consequences.”
Covid ‘black-zones’ exposed: Map shows horror surge in Britain [MAP]
Tory POLL: Should Rishi Sunak take over as PM? [POLL]
Prince Charles and Prince William ‘incredibly angry’ at Prince Andrew [INSIGHT]
Dr Nilsson highlighted that the countries grouped under the umbrella term of ‘the West’ should not be deterred from upholding key principles by the actions of Russia or China.
He specified: “The fact that Russia and China might help the Kazakh regime to circumvent many such consequences should still not stop the West from standing its ground (as in the case of sanctions against Russia following the 2014 invasion of Ukraine; sanctions that retain substantial symbolic, if less so economic, importance).”
China’s foreign ministry said this week that they supported the deployment of Russian-led forces in Kazakhstan to extinguish rebellion.
They added that China and Russia jointly had a mission to “oppose external forces interfering with the internal affairs of Central Asian countries”.
Vladimir Putin used the unrest in Kazakhstan to blame such external powers, telling a CSTO conference: “The events in Kazakhstan are not the first and far from the last attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of our states from the outside.”
Putin said the military alliance spearheaded by Russia had prevented “terrorists, criminals, looters and other criminal elements” from undermining the government of Kazakhstan, adding that Russian forces will be withdrawn when their mission is complete.
He continued: “The measures taken by the CSTO have clearly shown we will not allow the situation to be rocked at home.”