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Jan 7, 2022
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Kazakh riot is closer than you think: How Russia will respond to possible threats to its borders

In the photo: servicemen of the 55th motorized rifle (mountain) brigade of the Central Military District (CVD) during combat training sessions.  The 55th motorized rifle brigade was formed in 2014 and is the only mountain formation beyond the Urals

In the photo: servicemen of the 55th motorized rifle (mountain) brigade of the Central Military District (CVD) during combat training sessions. The 55th motorized rifle brigade was formed in 2014 and is the only mountain formation beyond the Urals (Photo: Vadim Savitsky / press service of the RF Ministry of Defense / TASS)

Kazakhstan is seething with protest actions, which turned out to be organized pogroms, provocations against local security officials, and brutal killings. The events in Alma-Ata are heard to a greater extent, where, as it is seen, is the epicenter of the next “color revolution”. In fact, they are actively rebelling in other cities, including in the immediate vicinity of the Russian border. While from there it smells of smoke from burning tires and powder gases. Will the fire go over to the territory of Russia?

Alma-Ata (in the current Kazakh name Almaty) is somewhere far away – in the south of Kazakhstan, to the Russian Orenburg 1885 km in a straight line, but from Aktyubinsk (since 1999, Aktobe) to Orenburg, 217 kilometers, and to the Russian Orenburg – 164 km. highway, just a stone’s throw away. This is not in terms of geographical knowledge – Aktobe, the fifth largest city in Kazakhstan, is considered the most rebellious region of this country, a refuge for radicals. The events of 2016 are memorable, when a series of terrorist attacks and an attack on a military unit of the National Guard of Kazakhstan took place here.

Alarming reports are coming from Aktobe even now – the thugs attack the administration building, try to seize the airport, commit acts of terrorism and sabotage. Reportedly, it was local activists of radical movements who went to Alma-Ata to organize armed provocations. They will return and continue their war in Aktyubinsk itself – in the immediate vicinity of Russian territory, into which, it is possible, they will try to penetrate. First of all, to the aforementioned Orenburg region and the Samara region bordering Kazakhstan.

Let us recall the “Maidan revolution” in Ukraine – tires were burned in Kiev, and then, like an adult, it flared up in Donbass. Directly on the border with Russia. The analogy is rather figurative, but will we not get a long-lasting hotbed of tension after the Kazakh riots in the Aktobe region? And what can potentially disturb this region of Kazakhstan?

– Well-worn lumps of strategic analysis usually look at the problem from space, not below. And today we will consider the Kazakh revolt according to the “ear to the ground” scheme, – says political scientist Alexander Zimovsky… – For starters, the salary. In the Aktobe region of Kazakhstan, it is on average 37 thousand rubles, in terms of Russian money. In the neighboring Orenburg region of Russia, the average salary is now also about 37 thousand rubles. I came across a figure of 42 thousand rubles, however, these are all games in methodology.

At the same time, liquefied gas for Kazakh motorists was 10.25 rubles per liter in Aktobe, after protests the price fell to 8.85 rubles per liter. And in the Orenburg region on January 6, liquefied gas for motorists cost 27.2 rubles per liter. The same ratio is in gasoline prices. Open any Orenburg newspaper, or any forum of local residents, and you will see with your own eyes an endless stream of discussions on the topic “why is it cheaper for the Kazakhs to petrol / gas?”

For the sake of fairness, I note that all local citizens of Russia willingly traveled to Kazakhstan to refuel without any problems. The Russians did not have any conflicts over this with the local Kazakhs, there was enough fuel, and the commercial export of this very fuel by private individuals from Kazakhstan to Russia was prohibited and was suppressed in the bud. They did not let them go into the canisters. I will add that tendencies towards economic separatism are highly developed in these border regions. Especially on the basis of oil and gas production. In the Orenburg Legislative Assembly, deputies from the left factions openly say that the Orenburg region is a rich, but in fact a poor region, that Moscow takes 81 percent of taxes.

The same can be heard at any end of the Aktobe region of Kazakhstan. Only in Kazakhstan there are simply no such brave deputies as in Russia. But there are many persons of clergy who can easily explain to a faithful person why this is happening. And then a faithful person is quite capable of choosing the path of jihad.

It is not for nothing that the Aktobe region has been considered the region of Kazakhstan for several years, the most saturated with activists of various religious movements of the extremist persuasion, in particular, takfirists. Their peculiarity is not so much the desire for religious expansion, as the struggle to cleanse the Kazakh authorities from “apostate Westernizers” who rob the Kazakh people to please the “infidels”.

And, as we just saw, the theses “we also want to eat” and “stop robbing us” are the leitmotif for the bulk of the participants in Kazakhstani protests. And when the crowd absorbs these slogans, no organizing principle is needed anymore. It is enough to indicate the purpose and direction of movement.

Therefore, I would not be so worried about the fact that we will not be able to cover 1,876 kilometers of the Russian-Kazakh border in the Orenburg region from religious fanatics. This is important, of course. But you should be more worried that the idea “we also want to eat” does not suddenly take over the minds of dear Russians. Then today’s Kazakhstan will seem like a Christmas party in a kindergarten.

Actually, how can Russia cover the border with Kazakhstan if necessary? On the front line, of course, are the Russian border guards themselves, who guard 7,598 kilometers of the border, which is considered the longest (continuous) in the world. By the way, it is reported that the border from the Russian side is not closed and numerous refugees from Kazakhstan are actively crossing it. Behind the “green caps” is the whole Central Military District of the RF Armed Forces.

The Central Military District is the largest military district in terms of territory, however, it is not the most equipped in terms of weapons, and even in terms of the number of personnel. Unlike the Western, Southern and Eastern military districts and the operational ones at the forefront of the “main attack”, it is equipped on a leftover basis. Affects the nature of the tasks performed – covering the directions from Kazakhstan and Mongolia, threats from which are not expected. Now the topic of internal tension in Kazakhstan itself has arisen, but it is definitely not necessary to expect tank attacks from there.

And although the Central Military District is considered an internal district, a kind of storage base for equipment, including tanks, military associations, formations and military units, there is quite enough. The district has two full-fledged combined-arms armies (the 2nd in Samara and the 41st in Novosibirsk). And also in the Central Military District there are units of peacekeeping forces – the 15th separate motorized rifle brigade with a permanent deployment point in the village of Roshinsky in the Samara region (its servicemen make up the bulk of the peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh) and the 31st separate airborne assault brigade in Ulyanovsk. We can also mention the 55th separate motorized rifle brigade (mountain) from Kyzyl, whose units are reportedly on high alert for possible dispatch to Kazakhstan.

It makes no sense to enumerate the entire list of troops of this district, but if we talk about the need to cover the Russian border, in “especially dangerous areas” from the Aktobe region of Kazakhstan, then the Central Military District is quite capable of coping with this task.

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