Tokaev leads a double play trying to be a friend of both Russia and EU

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev went on his first official visit to Russia after winning the elections. Vladimir Putin invited him to discuss the development of Russian-Kazakh relations. The two presidents’ meeting took place against street protests in Kazakhstan.

The President of Kazakhstan arrived in Moscow late on November 27. The day before, the Kremlin said it was a significant visit for the relations between the two countries. Next day, the presidents met in Moscow for talks on trade and the development of transport and logistics. During the meeting, Putin complimented his counterparties a lot.

Results of Tokayev’s visit to Russia

Following the talks, the parties signed a declaration on the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the countries. The document, among other things, states that the nations will develop military-political and military-technical cooperation, continue the interaction of the Armed Forces in bilateral and multilateral formats, and increase the potential of the Collective Security Treaty.

“We have now noted an increase in trade turnover in 2021. In 2022, it is also growing confidently. We are working in our traditional areas, in high-tech areas, which is extremely important for the future. We are glad to see you. Welcome!” Putin said.

Did Tokayev get the pro-Russian narratives of the agreement?

The declaration contains Russian narratives about the role of the Russian Federation in maintaining bilateral relations, the inseparability and lack of alternatives for further cooperation, and the positive impact and importance of Kremlin-led organizations such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the world order. 

In addition, the document’s text outlines Russian propaganda on historical processes, particularly regarding the common past in the USSR, its role in World War II, and Russia’s efforts to ensure international security. 

It is possible that with his visit to Russia, Tokayev tried to demonstrate to Putin the so-called “commitment” to political, cultural, and economic cooperation with Russia.

This position is due to the Kazakh leader’s attempt to keep Putin from interfering in the internal political processes in the country. At the same time, the President of Kazakhstan will try to continue pragmatic relations with the West. 

What puts Tokayev in the neutral position of the Russian treaty?

This declaration is not binding. From Russia’s point of view, Tokayev’s first visit and signing of such a document should raise Putin’s authority in front of the Russian audience and demonstrate his ability to continue implementing measures to preserve Russia’s influence in the post-Soviet space. 

Tokayev won the early presidential election with over 81% of the vote. In his inaugural speech, he named Russia, China, and Central Asian countries his main international partners. At the meeting with Putin in Moscow, he reiterated this idea.

“For Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation has been and remains the main strategic partner, a country with which we have deep relations in various fields,” Tokayev said.

According to experts, this visit is evidence that relations with Russia are now a priority for Kazakhstan, but the meeting between Tokayev and Putin does not have much content. Russia is now in the position of a rogue country, and Kazakhstan will try to take advantage of this.

Tokaev is divided between pro-Western views and ties with Russia

The leader of the Central Asian state is not the first time he has claimed his disapproval of the Russian invasion of the country. During the Moscow negotiations, the cameras show how Tokaev refused to watch Putin.

After exchanging signatures on the document, Tokayev momentarily held up the agreement with Putin, then quickly handed it to an aide. In contrast, the Russian still held up his copy for the cameras.

While Tokaev said there are “all sites to be satisfied” relations between Russia and Kazakhstan, he warned Putin: “We need to look ahead, and for this purpose, I came here.”

Kazakhstan has gridded the Kremlin, allowing tens of thousands of men who fled the country’s military conscription to search for a safe shelter there.

The Kazakhstani leader demanded a “collective search for peace formulas” in Ukraine

At today’s session, when they exchanged documents, there was a short movement and visual contact, but only for a second.

The Kazakh president was restrained in words and gestures. He chose a position between the two sides. Nevertheless, it is interesting when and on which side he will go because with the situation in geopolitics, it is clear that he will not always be able to play a double game. 

If Tokaev moves toward Russia, he must be aware that, in this case, his state will hold responsibility for Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

Read also: Tokayev won the presidential election in Kazakhstan (
Kazakhstan’s President strengthens his control over the entire vertical of power (

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