Russian general leading CSTO ‘peacekeepers’ in Kazakhstan headed Kremlin force that invaded and occupied Ukraine’s Crimea
The commander of Russia’s Airborne Forces Andrey Serdyukov, who headed the military operation to occupy Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014, will lead the CSTO ‘peacekeeping forces” deployed to Kazakhstan, it has been reported
The approximately 4,000-strong Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) force, made up primarily of Russian and Belarussian combat troops, was rapidly deployed to Kazakhstan after protests against the government erupted at the beginning of the year.
The CSTO force will be deployed for a limited period of time, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Russian defense ministry representative Igor Konashenkov as saying on Jan. 7, though he provided no concrete timeframe.
Konashenkov said that the Russian “peacekeepers” sent to Kazakhstan include several brigades and the 98th Airborne Division. All of them “underwent special training and have real combat experience,” he added.
Serdyukov was tapped to command the Russian Airborne Forces in October 2016.
Prior to that, he led the Russian military operation to invade and occupy Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in the spring of 2014.
Serdyukov also took part in the formation of the Russian proxy forces in the Donbas region (nom de guerre “Sedov”), and helped create the Territorial Army Center in the Russian town of Novocherkassk, to lead the Russian military operation against Ukraine.
In 2019, he was the commander of Russia’s troops in Syria.
Unrest in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan has been experiencing mass protests since early January 2022, sparked by significant increases in prices for liquefied petroleum gas, widely used as a cheap alternative to gasoline. The protests quickly evolved into full-scale anti-government demonstrations.
The Kazakh government has reacted with mass arrests of protesters, punitive police actions, an Internet shutdown, and by declaring a state of emergency.
On the third day of protests, rallies were banned and a curfew was imposed in the city of Almaty, considered to be the financial capital of Kazakhstan, the Almaty province, the capital of Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), and the Mangystau region.
The Kazakh government resigned en masse on Jan. 5, while law enforcement authorities began to disperse the protesters by force.
The CSTO Council on Jan. 5 made a decision to deploy what they termed “collective peacekeeping forces” to Kazakhstan following a request made by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Russian military units as well as Belarusian paratroopers have already arrived in the country.
Thousands of military personnel from CSTO member nations, including Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan are expected to be deployed to Kazakhstan.
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