The 40 Russian military planes return with peacekeepers from Kazakhstan, according to the Ministry of Defense

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Forty Russian Aerospace Force planes have returned from Kazakhstan with Kremlin peacekeepers from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) forces, according to a Russian Defense Ministry statement. The Collective Treaty Security Organization (CSTO), a military alliance involving six former Soviet countries, including Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, sent a peacekeeping contingent more than 2,000 soldiers in Kazakhstan.

“Forty aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces Military Transport Aviation transported Russian peacekeepers of the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces from the Republic of Kazakhstan to military airfields in the Moscow and Ulyanovsk regions over the past day,” the Department of Defense said in a statement.

What triggered the unrest in Kazakhstan?

The protests in Kazakhstan began with protests in Zhanaozen, in the oil-rich western province of Mangystau, and quickly spread to nearby oil towns such as Aktau, Aktobe and Atyrau. Kazakhs took to the streets following a sharp rise in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The protesters demanded that the price of petrol be halved from 120 tenge ($0.27) per liter to last year’s price. Despite Nur-Sultan officials’ decision to cut LPG rates, the protests turned into widespread dissatisfaction with the administration.

The protests moved to Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan, and Almaty, the country’s largest city, becoming the most geographically widespread protest in the country’s history. According to the country’s authorities, the recent unrest has left 225 people dead and more than 4,500 injured. During the violent disturbances, about 2,000 people were arrested.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sacked the cabinet and took command of the country’s Security Council on January 5. Tokayev described the situation in Kazakhstan as undermining the integrity of the state and said he had requested assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to defeat the terrorist threat during the first meeting of the Security Council under his presidency.

The CSTO operates on the same principle as NATO; an attack on one member state is considered an attack on all members, and each state is obliged to help the others. Following President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s request for help to deal with demonstrations that have turned violent, the member countries of the military bloc have sent troops to Kazakhstan. The withdrawal of the contingent is expected to last until January 19.

Image: AP

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