Putin allies in meltdown as huge rift erupts Ukraine war– Lukashenko rocked by Kazakh snub
Lukashenko says Russia 'must be ready' to use nuclear arsenal
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The reason for the decision appears to be Kazakstan’s anger at Belarusian support for Vladimir Putin’s ill-judged invasion of Ukraine. The timing of the split between Russia’s closest allies could not come at a worse time for the Kremlin, whose army is under increasing pressure from powerful Ukrainian counteroffensives in the south of the country. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Moscow acted quickly to re-assert its authority in its near abroad.
To that effect, the Kremlin created the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1993, which was joined by both Belarus and Kazakhstan.
The CIS was basically Moscow’s answer to the European Union, which was rapidly absorbing former Warsaw Pact states from Central and Eastern Europe.
Members of the CIS also signed a defence agreement known as the Collective Security Treaty.
Article four of that treaty stipulates that member states will provide military assistance to one another in the event they are attacked by an aggressor.
However, Kazakhstan’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, looks set to renege on that commitment, as regards Belarus.
In a letter to the Belarusian Ministry of Defence, Kazakhstan’s Defence Ministry executive Marat Khusainov writes his country can no longer “co-operate” with Minsk on military matters.
He says that Kazakstan’s military is organised “on the basis of showing respect to the fundamental principles and norms of international law.
“The direct participation in and attitude of the Armed Forces of the Belarus Republic towards the aggression against Ukraine clearly contradicts the above principles and norms.
“Based on the above, the leadership of the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defence no longer sees it possible to continue the mutual cooperation with Belarusian Ministry of Defence in military matters.”
Belarus served as a staging ground for Russian troops, as they prepared to invade Ukraine.
Lukashenko welcomed Russian soldiers to his country under the pretext of military exercises before Putin ordered the attack in February.
The Belarusian despot continues to publicly back his Russian counterpart, who came to his rescue during the huge street protests in 2020 following the disputed Presidential elections.
During a recent visit to Moscow, Lukashenko told reporters that Minsk supported and “will continue to support Russia” in its “fight against Nazism”.
The Belarus leader emphasised that his country would “remain together with fraternal Russia”.
However, despite the words of support, Lukashenko has yet to commit troops to Ukraine and it remains uncertain whether he will.
Artyom Shraibman, a researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told AFP: “There are no rational reasons — or irrational reasons for that matter — for Minsk to join, for Lukashenko to join.
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“What is Putin capable of doing? Will he be able to force Lukashenko to join? It’s an open question.”
In a further blow to Putin, Kazakhstan also withdrew last week from the CIS Interstate Monetary Committee.
The Committee was set up to facilitate cooperation between the various states on issues relating to currency, payment and credit.
The idea was to promote economic integration and ensure the mutual convertibility of national currencies.
The Russian leader increasingly looks isolated on the world stage, with his allies abandoning him.
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