Kazakhstan won't be "the next"

August 16, 2022

After the invasion of Ukraine, it became clear that Russia can be expected to make any, even clearly absurd, decisions in any field in respect to any country. The author reflects on the Russian stance towards Kazakhstan, its anticipated moves and implications for Ukraine/

Russia, which is suffering a political fiasco due to its military failure in Ukraine, needs at least some "liberatory" mission to please the ambitions of the Kremlin leaders. A yesterday's closest ally may be chosen as a country that needs "protection" or "liberation" (from "nationalists", "militarists", "terrorists"). There is no doubt that the Russian anger may turn to Kazakhstan.

Detachment of Kazakhstan’s leadership from Russia's aggressive plans, non-recognition of the "people’s republics", a sharp increase in the defence budget, refusal to violate sanctions imposed on Russia, readiness to develop alternative economic ties (such as oil transportation to Europe bypassing Russia) clearly indicate that Russia is losing another "sister nation".

The Russian leadership is nervous, because the Kazakh leadership does not see the point in being "grateful" to Russia, which helped to extinguish the outbreak of large-scale protests in the country earlier this year, and because Kazakhstan, instead of joining the aggression, provides humanitarian aid to Ukraine, while the leaders of both countries demonstrate mutual respect and maintain good contacts.

However, there is a number of factors that give grounds to assert that Russia will NOT dare to invade Kazakhstan militarily. The most important, of course, is the solidarity of the democratic world, which gained strength after the Ukrainian crisis and made Kazakhstan more secure.

There are two more factors that are specific to present-day Kazakhstan.

Foreign investments. Kazakhstan's economy was in a very poor state after the collapse of the USSR. However, the country found its niche and accelerated economic growth, prompting international experts to refer to Kazakhstan as one of the new "Asian tigers".

Significant FDI from leading countries of the world become a security factor, giving a sufficiently reliable protection against external (Russian) aggression.

Socio-political factor. Russia had a "chance" to seize Kazakhstan in January 2022, when Kazakh society saw mass protests, and Russian "peacekeepers" were moved in to deal with them. But most likely, already at that time the Russian leadership was targeting Ukraine and decided not to be distracted from priority plans, assuming that after the seizure of Ukraine, Kazakhstan itself will bow to the winner, given the weakness of its leadership.

However, it turned out to be a mistake. Ukraine's struggle for independence had a significant impact on Kazakhstan's vision of the "Russian World". Although dissatisfaction with the actions of the country's leadership in January 2022 remains high, at the same time, citizens more and more clearly see the new president as a politician with an independent statesmanship positions.

This policy gave Kazakhstan stable growth and development. Business activity remained steady, as reflected by the growth of wages.

Just as Ukraine contributed to the protection of Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan can improve the perception of Ukraine in Asian countries.

The author draws the following conclusions.

(1). Foreign direct investments in a country are now more than a factor of economy development — they increasingly acquire a security dimension. Higher volumes of FDI make a country more secure vis-à-vis an imperial aggressor.

(2). Ukraine should promptly adapt its investment policy.

(3). Kazakhstan's stance towards Ukraine gives a strong signal for strengthening trade and investment ties between the two countries. Kazakhstan has extensive regional contacts. Access of Ukrainian manufacturers and exporters to Kazakhstan means access to large Asian markets.

(4). Taking into account that Kazakhstan is increasingly looking to the West, and the USA is the main strategic partner for Ukraine, strengthening of cooperation between Kazakhstan and Ukraine may be supported by the USA, which will further improve the efficiency of strategic cooperation.

The full article is available in Ukrainian at https://razumkov.org.ua/statti/kazakhstan-ne-nastupnyi

Vasyl Yurchyshyn

Director, Economic Programmes

Born in 1955 in Kamyanets-Podilskyi.


T. Shevchenko Kyiv State University, Department of Cybernetics (1977).

Institute of Public Administration and Local Government at the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (1994).

Professor in Public Administration. Author of nearly 100 scientific works.


In 1977–1993, worked at the Kyiv University as an engineer, research fellow and senior research fellow;

1994–1999 — head economic researcher at the International Centre for Policy Studies, Fund for Banking and Finance Development;

1999–2004 — Assistant Professor, Department of Economic Policy of the Ukrainian (currently, National) Academy of Public Administration, office of the President of Ukraine;

1999–2004 — Research Director at the Agency of Humanitarian Technologies, later — Agency for Social Analysis;

2002–2003 — advisor to the Minister of Economy of Ukraine;

since April, 2004 — Professor, Department of Economic Policy of the National Academy of Public Administration, office of the President of Ukraine;

since June, 2005 — Economic Programmes Director at Razumkov Centre.

(044) 201-11-90