Russian troops are en route to help restore order after an urgent decision by the Russian-led regional security bloc Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). "The CSTO confirmed Russian paratroopers were being dispatched as peacekeepers, with advance units already deployed," BBC reports Thursday.
This photo from Kazakhstan resembles the second day of the "Syrian Revolution" when the "peaceful protesters" burned down the palace of justice in Daraa. pic.twitter.com/qcLDWzYnrJ— Kevork Almassian🇸🇾🇦🇲 (@KevorkAlmassian) January 6, 2022
Scenes from Almaty and other city streets in Kazakhstan are beginning to resemble a war zone, with state military forces seen in central squares, including armored personnel carriers, the day following embattled President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev vowed the state would not fall, and that he would stay at his post no matter what.
Widely circulating but unverified social media videos show running street battles with security forces, as police appear to be unleashing live fire, and as some unconfirmed footage seems to show rioters breaching police armories to access weapons.
Machine guns at work in Almaty, Kazakhstan where several footages of looting are also making rounds pic.twitter.com/DXweaIY9bO— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) January 5, 2022
Unverified footage: state sources are alleging rioters have breached and ransacked police stations...
URGENT: Rioters or “foreign sponsored terrorists” as announced by the president of Kazakhstan — have made their way into the arsenal of the National Security Committee and acquired heavy weaponry such as mortars. pic.twitter.com/uMFLA5sgJO— ASB News / MILITARY〽️ (@ASBMilitary) January 5, 2022
Also as banks are being attacked and looted...
Banks being robbed. These are not just protests but generalized anarchy. One has to wonder how things reached this point— Bruno Maçães (@MacaesBruno) January 6, 2022
According to BBC citing state sources, "Twelve members of the security forces have been killed and 353 injured in the unrest, sparked by a doubling in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)."
Meanwhile Russia is getting increasingly vocal. According to the newswires:
Russian Foreign Ministry says they see events in Kazakhstan as a foreign-inspired attempt to undermine state security using force.
And more mayhem is unfolding as Kazakh troops deploy to city streets amid the martial law 'state of emergency' in effect over the whole country:
SOLDIERS FIRING AT PROTESTERS AND CARS ON MAIN SQUARE OF KAZAKHSTAN'S ALMATY - TASS QUOTES WITNESSES
In addition to Russia the other members of the CSTO expected to send "peacekeeping" forces include Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Without doubt the move is hugely controversial in the West, with a number of pundits already charging Putin with helping to expand 'authoritarian' rule in the Central Asian former Soviet Republic.
Mission is now being deemed 'counterterrorism'...
Footage from Almaty, Kazakhstan that shows the ongoing military operation within the city. pic.twitter.com/8iSCOKFSRp— Global: MilitaryInfo (@Global_Mil_Info) January 6, 2022
Things are likely to escalate before they get calmer, given that with state security services dubbing their mission to halt the unrest as part of "counter-terror" operations, it in effect greenlights the use of major force.
Already in Russian media there are "Reports of firefights in central Almaty as law enforcement authorities are conducting mop up operations to quell the protests."
Below: unverified video purporting to show weapons being passed out to protesters...
🎥 Unmarked vehicles delivering weapons to rioters in Kazakhstan pic.twitter.com/GQsDtrTT5Q— ASB News / MILITARY〽️ (@ASBMilitary) January 5, 2022
Further one regional analyst observed: "It is not surprising that this is happening in Almaty because that's where some protesters ransacked at least one gun store."
As of early Thursday, Russian peacekeeping forces have begun departing, however, there's nothing so far to suggest that the Kremlin is deploying a very large force - also as it likely has its eyes still focused on the Ukraine crisis 2.0 and NATO eastward expansion...
Опубликованы кадры вылета Коллективных миротворческих сил в Казахстан pic.twitter.com/RUJYRkDeI1— zvezdanews (@zvezdanews) January 6, 2022