March 11th, 2014
04:39 PM ET

What I'm reading: Will Russia make a play in Kazakhstan?

By Fareed Zakaria

“There are signs of disapproval by the ruling elite in Kazakhstan regarding the Russian military involvement in Ukraine,” write Peter Elstov and Klaus Larres in the New Republic. “Putin’s longtime supporter President Nursultan Nazarbayev is cautiously silent, but spontaneous protests in front of the Russian Consulate in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, have not been disbanded by the police. This should not be surprising: Russians in Kazakhstan constitute about 24 percent of the population – more than 3 million people. In northern Kazakhstan, almost 50 percent of the population is Russian, with some areas having a majority of Russians. It is not inconceivable – following the logic behind the annexation of Crimea by the Russian army – that Putin may, at some point, want to return parts of northern Kazakhstan to the Russian orbit, particularly if this country becomes politically unstable.”


“Only when the 2004 Orange Revolution, the 2008 Russia-Georgia war and gas disputes with Russia in 2006 and 2009 kept dragging it on to the west’s foreign-policy radar did Brussels and Washington start to see Ukraine’s significance as a buffer between Europe and Russia,” writes Julian Evans in The New Statesman. “Yet even then they viewed it as no more than a commodity: a strategic chess piece, a prize of influence, a resource-rich target of western expansionism.”

“The result of this psychically toxic mixture of abuse, neglect, condescension and exploitation? The Ukrainian people, ethnic Ukrainians (78 percent), ethnic Russians (17 percent) and others, had a nation but did not – until 31 November last – start to have the confidence of nationhood.”


“In recent years, China’s current-account surpluses have fueled its prodigious money-supply growth within a largely pegged currency,” argues Craig Stephen for Market Watch. “As foreign exchange piled up, the People’s Bank of China would print more yuan. According to some estimates, China’s banking system has grown from $10 trillion to $24 trillion since 2008.”

“Authorities could now face a very different dynamic. Instead the reverse will be now true, where if the yuan weakens, the central bank will effectively have to buy its own currency using foreign reserves to maintain its peg. This would mean the external trade position would now lead the central bank to shrink – rather than expand – domestic money supply.

“If this is the case, Beijing will need to get used to the market forcing deleveraging and slower growth, no matter what it targets. The unwind of China’s giant credit spree could be painful.”


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soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Danro

    He won't move against Khazakstan but what about average Russians in Khazakstan? Will they want to join Russia?

    March 11, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
  2. Joseph McCarthy

    The bigger question here Fareed is, will either the U.S., Great Britain or France make a play for Kazakhstan? That appears to be a far more likely scenario since these countries seem to worm their way into every international situation!

    March 12, 2014 at 8:59 am |
  3. palintwit

    We actually have a lot in common with Russia. We have our teabaggers to deal with and Putin has his.

    March 12, 2014 at 10:40 am |
  4. bobcat2u

    Well, if they do, you could start off with "Death of a salesman." And finish up with "Annie"/

    March 12, 2014 at 11:04 am |
  5. DP

    CNN officially "off ramped" from Ukrain... = headlines 🙂

    Malaysia Airlines
    East Harlem explosion
    'The Uncounted'
    Trial drug
    Death row
    'The Bachelor'

    as expected

    March 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
  6. Yerbol

    Now it is time for the world to create the universal treatment against those who want to change boundaries of their neighbors by using force. This treatment should be more powerful than the nuclear weapon by its effectiveness, it should be triggered inevitably and immediately as soon as the aggression is undertaken. By power it should be even more effective than the sanctions agaist Iran, applied in past. And this should ensure every nation in the world that the nuclear weapon could be defeated by truth and unity.

    March 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
    • Ian

      Yes a mechanism for dealing with those acting like Putin is long over due, If we don't find a way, one of these situations is going to go horribly wrong one day. Leaving political divisions aside, today we are lucky to have had a leaded as cool headed and as clever as Obama at the helm. Who knows how much further out of hand events would have been at this point if we had one of the self interested trigger happy western politicians in power.
      Our societies really need to mature for several important reasons, In the longer term we somehow need to find ways to expose self interested politicians and have many more clever leaders with strong goodwill. If western democracies are more advanced and cleaner then the likes of Putin would have fewer events to exploit in reckless propaganda.

      March 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
      • I'm an African

        Its funny how quickly people ridicule and countries act when its not the USA and its allies bullying smaller nations. The USA and its allies do not own the world, who made guardians of the universe, and as for the UN, they are an ineffective organisation with only the wests', IMF, World bank and Britain's' interests at heart.. Just because its Russia and not their allies invading Crimea, it is a crime, what about Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Iran, what proof has been provided to justify the bullying and destruction of these countries leadership?

        March 13, 2014 at 5:38 am |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Great post, I'm an African. Thank you.

        March 13, 2014 at 11:38 am |
  7. Odyssey753

    31 November??? An accurate metaphor for Ukraine's history the last twenty years...

    March 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
  8. venik4

    Crimea and Kazakhstan are completely different situations. Russia is not after land: it has more of that than it knows what to do with. Crimea is a major base of the Russian Navy. The coup in Kiev meant Ukraine's EU and NATO memberships were only a matter of time. Protecting ethnic Russians in Crimea is a pretext: the real reason for the intervention is keeping the NATO away.

    March 12, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
    • Ferhat Balkan

      I agree with you there. Still, it is no excuse for Russia to send in troops to Crimea. Crimea still belongs to Ukraine and ultimately, it is up to the Ukrainians to decide what they want to do with Crimea.

      March 12, 2014 at 11:32 pm |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Then again Ferhat, we had no legitimate reason to invade Iraq back in 2003 but did so anyway. This alone proves just how little the right-wing thugs in Washington respect international law!

        March 13, 2014 at 11:41 am |
  9. Ian

    Who knows what will happen, besides Putin's other motives we may be dealing with an individual with small man syndrome and a low-moral-intellect. Anything is possible, no matter how stupid this would be for all sides!

    See – The Seven Principles of Public Life, also known as the "Nolan principles" Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty, Leadership

    Ideally we would have a global mechanism to openly rate people in power against these 7 principles, say a snappy easy to use functional website, to host evidence of their true nature.

    There is much room for improvement even in western democracies but I suspect Putin with his state controlled media, reckless propaganda and maneuvers that could potentially put thousands of his own people on the front line of a conflict zone wouldn't rate too highly. 

    March 12, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
  10. African man

    USA thnk they are the only country in the world they want their words to be the solution of the problem even though they sometime see that they dont do good, now they forced our country not to buy oil in Lybia just because thet were having problem with Lybia now petrol price increase every week just because we now buy oil from europe with expensive price

    March 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
  11. John Sedgwick

    So just because USA invasion of Iraq wasn't truly justified we should let Russia bully and invade Ukraine? Nice logic, I'd like to underline that Iraqi regime was torturing, killing and massacring people for no reason while new Ukrainian parliament promotes democracy and hasn't killed a single person unlike the pro-Russian Yanukovic and his gang of thugs. We have to contain Russia, otherwise sooner or later they will be too strong and then will start pushing their sphere of influence onto western nations as well.

    March 14, 2014 at 4:20 am |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Such is to be expected from someone like you with your obvious limitations, John. You sound like another feeble minded Tea Partier with your idiotic anti-Russian rant above. What about Iraq and Afghanistan and our murdering people with those ungodly drones of ours? Tell me, please!

      March 14, 2014 at 10:32 am |
    • observadora

      Have you been there? Are you the supreme judge to say what is right and what is not?

      No country has any right to interfere into another country's affairs. The US has been doing that for years all over the world. And they have tons of blood on their hands. You should be blind not to notice that that's wrong!

      The US can not dictate to all the countries how to live! All countries are different, they have different histories, different cultures, different mentalities. You can not pretend to have all the countries and all the peoples of the world look the same. It's impossible!

      The US say they have democracy in the US. Ok, so why have they been trying to get Snowden then after the guy revealed all the atrocities the US had been doing? Every person has a right to freedom of the speech no? If they could catch him, he would be already dead.

      Is this "democracy"?

      March 20, 2014 at 8:36 am |
  12. southstar

    Forget iraq,whats happening is biggger than that.sure usa was wrong back then but this is different,not a fan of obama but what options he have none fear him even,his famous red line imao.

    March 18, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
  13. observadora

    Would you stop taking everything that is written on CNN for granted? I'm greatly dissappointed in CNN. It has been publishing offensive things about other countries' history, other countries' cultures, it has been publishing lies now about this whole Ukraine situation. It has not published one true fact since the whole situation started!

    This is just to play with people's minds, make them believe Russia is an enemy. Because this is what bad guys usually do. If they have no other means, they use deceipt and lies.

    Russia is NOT going to invade anyone! Not eastern Ukraine, not Alaska, not Estonia, not Kazakhstan!

    It was not Russia, who bombed Iraq, Lybia etc etc over the past years. It was not Russia who had millions of innocent people killed in those countries. And for what reason? In search for weapons of mass destruction? SO? Has anyone found them yet? No. Because this was not the reason.

    Do you think this is right? DO you think all those people deserved to die in vain? Just because the US government wanted to play a little? DO you think THIS is justice?

    March 20, 2014 at 8:23 am |
    • Jerry Falwell

      Well said, observadora. Thank you for your intelligent input here. Other people say the most ignorant things here by standing up for the right-wingers in Washington and touting our aggressive foreign policies.

      March 20, 2014 at 10:46 am |
  14. Ferdi

    Fareed it seems you have a short memory. What happened in Crimea wasn't caused by Russia. I am sure that if the west had respected the February 21st agreement all of this wouldn't have happened. But ofcourse you always forget that Fareed.

    March 20, 2014 at 9:54 am |
    • Jerry Falwell

      Well put, Ferdi. Thank you.

      March 20, 2014 at 10:47 am |
  15. vreyro linomit

    Throughout this awesome pattern of things you receive an A+ just for effort. Exactly where you actually misplaced me personally ended up being in your particulars. As they say, the devil is in the details... And it could not be more correct in this article. Having said that, allow me say to you what did deliver the results. Your article (parts of it) is highly convincing which is most likely the reason why I am making the effort to opine. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. Secondly, even though I can notice the jumps in reason you come up with, I am definitely not sure of just how you seem to connect your points which help to make the conclusion. For right now I will yield to your position however hope in the foreseeable future you actually connect your dots better.

    January 9, 2021 at 1:33 pm |

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