The UK will help Kazakhstan comply with sanctions against Russia

British Foreign Minister James Cleverly stated during a visit to Kazakhstan on Saturday (18 March) that Britain would assist Kazakhstan in creating export routes that avoid Russia. He also signed an agreement on the supply of vital minerals.

Cleverly visit

Cleverly stated that Britain respected Astana’s stance on the Russo-Ukrainian war, given that it had historically been firmly associated with Moscow. Kazakhstan has refused to endorse or acknowledge Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory.

He said at a press conference: “The UK strongly appreciates Kazakhstan’s persistent and principled position in favor of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and your willingness to bring about a conclusion to the war in line with the UN charter.

Although Kazakhstan has already begun to divert some crude exports towards it, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey route still needs substantial investment to increase its capacity.

Diplomats from Kazakhstan cleverly claimed to have signed a memorandum on vital resources such as rare earth metals but gave no further information

The landlocked, 20 million-person former Soviet country supplies about half of the world’s uranium and is rich in rare earth materials, which the West typically imports from China or Russia.

A few weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Kazakhstan, which shares the longest land border with Russia of any former Soviet country, requested the assistance of the Russian military to help quell mass protests. Tokayev has maintained his distance from Moscow and cordial connections with the West ever since the invasion.

Seven sources with firsthand knowledge of the situation told Reuters that Russian businesses had besieged their Kazakh counterparts with additional demands in recent weeks to assist them in getting under Western sanctions and importing desperately needed items.

Due to the subject’s sensitivity, the sources all spoke on the condition of anonymity. They claimed to have noticed increased Russian requests for assistance transporting everything from bearings and aircraft parts to rare earth metals across Kazakhstan’s 7,591-kilometer land border with Russia.

Parliamentary elections

On Sunday, Kazakhs will vote in a sudden parliamentary election that is primarily anticipated to strengthen President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s hold on the presidency and complete the reorganization of the ruling class that started after he formally assumed office last year.

Tokayev will be better able to negotiate the regional unrest brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing harm to trade, investment, and supply lines across the former Soviet Union with a more robust mandate.

Although Tokayev has changed the makeup of the administration, the lower house of parliament, which was chosen when Nazarbayev still held sway over the country and was the leader of the Nur Otan party, was not scheduled for election until 2026. Hence, the president called a special election.

In contrast to his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, Tokayev has opted not to serve as the leader of the ruling party, now known as Amanat. However, polls indicate that it is likely to maintain a comfortable majority and serve as the foundation of his support network in the legislature, particularly in the absence of potent opposition parties.

But, numerous opposition figures are running as independents for the first time in almost two decades, which could give some government opponents a chance to gain a small number of seats.

According to Tokayev, the vote would enable him to begin carrying out his reform strategy for the nation and secure a more equitable division of its wealth.

“Neutral” position

Tokayev’s hand in foreign policy is anticipated to get stronger after the political transition. He received support from Moscow during the upheaval of 2022, but he refused to back Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or acknowledge its takeover of specific Ukrainian territory.

Astana is attempting to uphold positive ties with Moscow, its neighbor and a significant commercial partner, and the West, which wants to isolate Russia.

Image: President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev [R] meets with UK Secretary of State James Cleverly [L] via Official website of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

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