Tobias Ellwood: Ukraine and Kazakhstan may be the Rhineland and the Sudetenland of our day

By Tobias Ellwood MP for Conservative Home - 11.01.22

Tobias Ellwood is Chair of the Defence Select Committee, and is MP for Bournemouth East.

The haste with which the Kremlin deployed troops to Kazakhstan, to quash any prospect of regime change, underlines the wider international ramifications of events unfolding there.

Still fuming over the demise of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Putin has long been committed to re-building Russia’s sphere of influence in states once controlled from Moscow.

Hence the 100,000 troops poised to invade Eastern Ukraine. So this opportunity to re-affirm Russia’s sway on his southern flank could not be missed. A busy January for Putin just got busier.

Should the West be troubled when valiant efforts to challenge autocracy are suppressed by Russia? Or should we simply leave Putin to his belligerent foreign policy and his big game of RISK?

Before addressing this, it’s worth updating ourselves on the region and considering why Central Asia is increasingly relevant on the international stage.

Hollywood continues to depict “the Stans”, this former region of the Soviet Union (comprising of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) as autocratic, culturally backward and a hotbed of terrorist groups plotting.

Jack Bauer in 24 ‘went up against terrorists from ‘Kaukistan’, The Expendables‘ films tackled baddies from ‘Azmenistan’ and Austin Powers, the international man of mystery, took on the intriguingly named Kreplachistan. Even Jim Hacker of ‘Yes Prime Minister’ fame contended with a fictitious ‘Kumranistan.’

‘Stan’ actually means ‘a place abounding.’ Stalin carved formal lines on the map in the 1920’s to create these Soviet states – hoping to sew discord by splintering ethnic areas and making the region easier to control. However, they have all developed their own cultural identities and characteristics.

Uzbekistan, for example, is the most populated and settled of the states, as well as being the historic hub. Kyrgyzstan is strong in agriculture, and seen as an island of democracy in the region. Tajikistan is arguably the least developed, but famous for its cotton fields while focuseing heavily on hydropower, and the desert state of Turkmenistan gets top prize for retaining its Stalinist credentials. So powerful has President Niyazov of Turkmenistan become he renamed a month of the year after himself and his mother.

But the giant at the heart of Central Asia is Kazakhstan. Larger than India in size, it has vast mineral wealth that will eventually allow the state to claim regional superpower status. Boasting a new skyscraper capital with matching modern infrastructure, it is little wonder that Kazakhstan baulked at its parody as a joke-state in the Borat films.

For the full article in pdf, please click here:

Tobias Ellwood - Ukraine and Kazakhstan may be the Rhineland and the Sudetenland of our da
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However, the above article does not mention the role of Tony Blair as an adviser to the Kazakhstan regime which was publishd in the Daily Mail on the 7th January. Here are the headlines with a link to the full article in pdf below those.

Tony Blair faces fresh scrutiny over dealings with Kazakhstan regime as streets erupt in deadly protests

  • Tony Blair faced renewed scrutiny over his dealings with Kazakhstan regime

  • Street battles have gripped Kazakhstan after demonstrations over fuel prices

  • Much of the anger was directed at former president Nursultan Nazarbayev

By Vanessa Allen for the Daily Mail

Tony Blair faces fresh scrutiny over dealings with Kazakhstan regime as streets erupt in d
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