Home / Articles / How the Intervention in Kazakhstan Revitalized the Russian-led CSTO
The Russian Federation-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has existed for nearly 30 years, and, during all that time, it had never sent troops into a conflict zone in one of its members states. CSTO members Armenia and Kyrgyzstan had requested assistance in the past, but the organization did not send help as those situations were not part of the CSTO mandate.
Faced with unrest that broke out in early January 2022, Kazakhstan’s government requested CSTO assistance to fend off what Kazakhstan’s president said was a threat to the country’s sovereignty from tens of thousands of terrorists. For the first time, the CSTO answered a call for aid and deployed some 2,500 troops to guard key facilities in Kazakhstan—but only in a few cities, and for less than two weeks.
It looks now like there were no terrorists, and Kazakh President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev’s call for help was not to save his country, but to save himself from elements in the government that were trying to oust him. That makes the CSTO decision to deploy forces more intriguing, as it appears the organization did not send the force to Kazakhstan to defend that country’s sovereignty, but to defend Tokayev and preserve a government that was friendly towards Russia.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan organization that seeks to publish well-argued, policy-oriented articles on American foreign policy and national security priorities.