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Putin Pushes His Red Lines in Kazakhstan and Ukraine

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that if diplomacy over Ukraine and NATO fails, Russia will opt for an unspecified “military-technical solution.”
Putin pushes his red lines in Kazakhstan and Ukraine
Vladimir Putin with Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (on left) in November. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty


Monday was a day of red lines for Vladimir Putin: Russia will not allow “color revolutions” in its neighborhood, he said, and will stand by its demands that NATO pull back from its borders and keep Ukraine out — even as Washington insists those are “non-starters.”

Driving the news: Putin said that by dispatching troops to Kazakhstan, the Moscow-led alliance had shown it “will not allow the situation to be rocked at home and will not allow so-called ‘color revolutions,'” a reference to the uprisings that toppled pro-Moscow governments in Georgia and Ukraine.

  • Putin described at a virtual gathering of leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization the events in neighboring Kazakhstan as a foreign-backed terrorist operation, a claim for which there is little evidence.
  • He said Russian troops would remain in Kazakhstan until order is restored and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev deems them no longer necessary.
  • By inviting Russia in, Tokayev underscored Moscow’s position as security guarantor for regimes in the region. He may also have compromised his country’s sovereignty.
  • Even if Russia doesn’t leave troops in the country, “it’s hard to imagine that Moscow wouldn’t try to secure something in exchange for this activation,” says Alexander Cooley, a Central Asia expert at Columbia University.

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