CSTO gradual withdrawal from Kazakhstan to start in two days; process to last at least 10 days

Tokayev addressing the Majlis

Tokayev addressing the Kazakhstan Majilis (Kazinform)

NUR-SULTAN:   The gradual withdrawal of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) peacekeeping troops from Kazakhstan will begin in the next two days, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has said.

The troops arrived in Kazakhstan after Tokayev called them to help restore peace in the country following clashes and acts of arson that killed and injured scores of people.

“In general, the critical phase of the counter-terror operation has passed and the situation in all regions has stabilized,” Tokayev told a plenary meeting of the Majilis (Parliament), Kazinform news agency reported

“In this regard, I announce that the main mission of the peacekeeping troops of the CSTO has been completed successfully.”

Tokayev said that the withdrawal process will take at least 10 days.

The CSTO is an intergovernmental military alliance made up of six countries. It started as the Collective Security Treaty signed on May 15, 1992, by Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Georgia joined in 1993 and the treaty came into force in 1994.

Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan later pulled out and in 2002, as Central Asia gained weight in geopolitics and the US invaded neighboring Afghanistan, the remaining six countries – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan- agreed to establish the Collective Security Treaty Organization as a full-blown military alliance. In 2007, the CSTO created a 3,600-strong peacekeeping force.

It was the first time that the CSTO agreed to send “peacekeepers” to Kazakhstan after its President Tokayev officially asked the organisation to deploy troops to help “pacify” the ongoing unrest in the country that included “foreign-trained terrorist gangs.”

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