What does Kazakhstan’s new military doctrine reveal about its relations with Russia?
Without much ado, Kazakhstan adopted a new military doctrine in September, replacing a 2011 document that had become dated. The new document states that Kazakhstan does not have enemies. Yet, Astana seems alarmed enough by Russia’s aggressive actions toward Ukraine since 2014 to have produced a doctrine that is an obvious reaction to Moscow’s hybrid warfare tactics, which include cyber-disruption and propaganda.
Kazakhstan is not alone in sensing that it now lives in a rapidly changing security environment that demands new policies. Belarus, another neighbor of Russia, introduced a new military doctrine in July 2016. But while Belarus made explicit that it is reacting to Ukraine’s fight against Russian-backed separatists and Moscow’s use of hybrid warfare, Kazakhstani authorities have not commented publicly on changes to their military doctrine.
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Deirdre Tynan is Central Asia Project Director at International Crisis Group, the independent conflict-prevention organization. Tynan also serves on Eurasianet’s board. The opinions expressed in this commentary are Tynan’s own, and do not necessarily represent the views of ICG or Eurasianet.