The US Secretary of State has incurred Moscow’s wrath by noting that Russian aid can come at a price. “If Russians are in your house, it can sometimes be difficult to get them out,” said Minister Antony Blinken about the situation in Kazakhstan. “A rude comment,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Mass protests spiraled out of control in Kazakhstan last week. The government appealed to the CSTO, a military alliance led by Russia. That then sent troops to the resource-rich country. Russian soldiers were involved in, among other things, the recapture of the airport in the metropolis of Almaty.
According to Blinken, Washington wonders why the government of Kazakhstan asked for military aid from abroad. He suggested that Kazakhstan may remain tied to Russian auxiliaries for a long time to come. He called that a “lesson from the recent past”.
Moscow reacted furiously to that. The Russian ministry said Blinken was apparently trying to make a “nice joke about the tragic events in Kazakhstan”. “He ridiculed a perfectly legitimate response from Russia in Kazakhstan.”
“If Antony Blinken is so fond of history lessons, we’ve got another one here: When Americans are in your house, it can be hard to stay alive,” the department sneered. Native Americans, Vietnamese, and Iraqis, among others, served as examples.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced a day of mourning in honor of “the many victims of the tragic events”. He also had a “long phone call” with Russian President Vladimir Putin about measures taken to restore order in Kazakhstan. Putin and Tokayev agreed to “maintain” contact with each other.
Some experts suspect that Tokaev appealed to the Russians because he cannot rely on his own security services. The unrest in Kazakhstan has meanwhile claimed the lives of at least 40 people, state media reports. Authorities say they have arrested at least 4,400 people.