Kazakhstan is stepping up cooperation with Ukraine to counter Russia's influence. Kazakhstan sees such cooperation a normal multi-vector policy. Is this OK for Russia?
In an interview with Ukrainian publication LegalHub, Darkhan Kaletaev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Kiev, Doctor of Political Science, called on Ukraine to jointly build the Chinese Silk Road to Europe bypassing Russia.
"Ukraine's interest in Kazakhstan has increased, the Trans-Caspian trade route has been actively developing," the official noted.
According to the ambassador, the development of bilateral relations was discussed at the state level. He compared this relationship with the potential energy of the compressed spring.
"I am sure that in the post-pandemic period we will see an exponential growth in trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Ukraine against the background of the development of our relationship — not only in economic or investment fields. After all, we are raising the entire layer of our relations," Kaletayev said.
"Ukraine gradually pulls out from individual agreements of the CIS. We understand all reasons and contexts. But then we need to agree on a bilateral level," he added.
Among other significant bilateral projects with Ukraine, Darkhan Kaletaev named cooperation in the agricultural sector, pharmaceutical industry and cross-border cooperation.
The ambassador did not deny that Russia could hinder oil supplies to Ukraine from Kazakhstan. "Kazakhstan, undoubtedly, is ready to supply carbon resources to Ukraine via the Odessa-Brody and Druzhba oil pipelines," he noted. In exchange, the ambassador expects supplies of Ukrainian equipment.
"Ukraine is ready to supply to Kazakhstan equipment of Ukrainian production for the oil and gas industry. The Ukrainian side reported that the supplies of hydro turbine equipment, gas turbine stations, etc were ready to start. The question is now at the stage of elaboration," said Darkhan Kaletayev.
Interestingly, the official did not say a word about Kazakhstan's activities within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and opportunities that Ukraine can have in this project. The ambassador only mentioned new opportunities, such as the Eastern Partnership.
"There are many different geopolitical visions. There is an understanding that Europe should communicate with Asia," he noted, adding that economics comes first and politics comes second.
However, political statements show otherwise. Darkhan Kaletaev spoke about a joint historical project with Ukraine.
"We are planning to organize a series of visits of historians, archivists, and archaeologists from Kazakhstan. The lives of many Kazakhs who found their last refuge here during World War II, during deportations in the 1920s and 1930s still remain a mystery. With the help of our Ukrainian partners, we found out that there were special settlers from Kazakhstan in the Kherson region," the ambassador noted.
It goes about the anti-Russian project to recognize the "genocide" of Ukrainians and Kazakhs during the Holodomor.
"We are nomads, residents of vast steppe territories. Nomadism or the phenomenon of nomadism is, first of all, a willingness to change. This is the key to success in modern realities," Kaletaev concluded.
Fine about nomads, but the Russians call it changing shoes on the go. The general tone of the interview was pro-Western, pro-Ukrainian and anti-Russian.
All "anti-Russia" projects have brought nothing but great trouble to the peoples of post-Soviet countries (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova). They had to go through wars, loss of territories and sovereignty. However, it appears that Kazakhstan is unwilling to learn from other people's mistakes.
In a comment for Pravda.Ru, Pyotr Svoik, an economist from Kazakhstan, noted that Kazakhstan's plans for Ukraine were "partially realisable." The expert believes that the expansion of economic ties with Ukraine does not come contrary to Kazakhstan's membership in the EAEU, which does not prohibit cooperation outside the Eurasian Economic Union.
In addition, for all EAEU members, with the exception of Belarus, trade and economic relations play a lesser role, in comparison with cooperation with third countries, Pyotr Svoik added.
Andrei Grozin, the head of the department of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, candidate of historical sciences at the Institute of CIS Countries, told Pravda.Ru that the ambassador simply said the nice words that he was supposed to say, since in practical terms there are no conditions in Kazakhstan to intensify cooperation with Ukraine:
"Building air castles of partnership with Ukraine is ridiculous," said Andrey Grozin.
According to the expert, the largest contract that Ukraine has implemented in Central Asia over the past five years was a contract for the maintenance of energy facilities, turbines of the would-be Rogun hydroelectric power station in Tajikistan. A large contract was implemented for the construction of a mineral fertilizer complex in Turkmenistan, and that's all.
"Ukraine has been falling into an abyss of economic problems for years now. This is the dead end of Eastern Europe, so building landmark routes via the territory of Ukraine, implementing the Chinese strategy of the Silk Road or trying to implement some other projects is unreasonable, to put it mildly," the expert told Pravda. Ru.
"The Chinese are not idiots either. China did not implement any major experimental project in Ukraine either in 2020 or in 2021. Instead, those projects were implemented through Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Belarus," said Andrei Grozin.
Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev presented a map in which Russia takes the entire territory of the former Ukraine