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Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies

under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Address of the President to the people of Kazakhstan

Third Modernization of Kazakhstan

"Only those nations who manage to set the future goals and proceed resolutely facing the challenges,

instead of sitting on the hedge and waiting, are the winners."

Security in all Central Asia Depends Mainly on Kazakhstan Russia Cooperation

 

 

Georgy DUBOVTSEV, Chief Research Fallow at the Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of Kazakhstan, Candidate of Military Sciences, Colonel in (retired)

 

- A&F: Kazakhstan is reported to have acquired several modern Su-35s at the MAKS-2017 airshow recently held near Moscow. This is a sign that our military cooperation continues. However, the question arises why does Kazakhstan need such airplanes? If anything may be considered to threaten Kazakhstan these are the jihadists trained in the Middle East. Yet this is a hypothetical threat and don’t you think that it is very unlikely that will have to fight them with the first-line aircrafts.

- This is not exactly accurate. In fact, in 2015, Kazakhstan purchased a number of the latest Su-30SM aircraft. The combat training of our pilots was demonstrated during the military parade in Astana. By the end of this year two more SU-30SMs and four Mi-35M multifunctional helicopters will be delivered to the Kazakhstan army. As for MAKS-2017, a memorandum of understanding was signed to build an assembly plant in Kazakhstan to produce SU-35s as a prototype of a future aircraft plant. This elevates the relations on the next level, as Kazakhstan becomes a producer of modern aircraft together with Russia. We will create new jobs and train highly qualified professionals; moreover, the state budget will raise the revenue through the taxes.

- A&F: Where is the future plant suppose to be located?

- The exact location is still unknown, but, given that there is the air force engineering centre in Astana, one may presume that the new plant will be built there. As for the flight characteristics of these combat aircraft, these are so-called "4 ++" generation ones that impressed the Western experts who attended the air show. Thus, we are interested in purchasing these machines, as the alternatives offered by the other producers are more expensive.

- A&F: Yet, you do not tell me why we need these machines.

- Any country is striving to have an army that possesses the most advanced aircraft technology. This, along with anti-missile systems, is one of the most important component of any air defense. These aircraft can hit ground targets and air targets. In this situation, the Ministry of Defense’s decision was right. It would not be a disclosure of any classified information, if I say that Kazakhstan’s air force is largely outdated. Most of the aircraft were produced in the USSR. Although these are reliable machines, they do age. Look, we are not buying dozens of them, maybe a flight or a squadron ... for our readers, a flight consists of four aircraft and three flights consuetude a squadron

- A&F: How would you describe the Kazakhstan-Russian relations, what do you think we need to improve?

- As far as I can see, the cooperation with Russia is proceeding well both within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The CIS states signed the Treaty on the Unified Air Defense System that would cover all air spaces except Georgia and Ukraine. The closest cooperation is maintained through the CSTO. Last year, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan elaborated the CSTO Collective Security Strategy 2025. This document, signed by the President Nazarbayev reinforces the defense strategy of Kazakhstan.

 

The armies of the CSTO members demonstrated their excellence at the third International Army Games 2017 opened on July 29 in Moscow. The tank biathlon, which was born in Russia and extended to Kazakhstan, gained the worldwide recognition. On August 1, Kazakhstan started its part of the International Army Games at the Otar training ground where three competitions shall take place out of 28. Last year, the Games took place on the territory of Russia and Kazakhstan, this year they are joined by Azerbaijan, Belarus and China as the Games hosts. In total, more than 4000 people will participate in the competitions that will last until 12 August. The number of competitor countries increased from 19 last year to 28 in 2017 and seven more sent their observers. This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the combat skills as well as the weapons and equipment… and conclude new contracts.

- A&F:  So, the Games are the politics, sport and business… 

- Indeed, they are. India, for example, brought to the biathlon T-90 tanks assembled there under the Russian license. China introduced the tanks produced domestically, but with the use of modern imported technologies including those from Russia. Belarus brought its own modernized combat vehicles. The main rivalry in most competitions is between Russia, Kazakhstan and China.

- A&F: The Games are good, but what about military exercises?

- The most important ones are the "Combat Brotherhood". It will be conducted in several stages. The first is a command-staff with the participation of the CSTO members states military ministries, the Joint Staff senior officers and the Secretariat. The second is the tactical “Search-2017” in Armenia with the participation of the intelligence units. Finally, the most important is "Interaction-2017" also in Armenia by the CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Forces and the United Group of Armenia and Russia. In addition, there will be  "Unbreakable Brotherhood-2017" of the collective peacekeeping forces.

- A&F: Am I right to believe that Russia and Kazakhstan are the backbone of the CSTO?

- I would rather say that the core is Russia and Kazakhstan is the most active participant in the military alliance contributing to the Collective Rapid Reaction Force with an assault brigade, a reconnaissance battalion, an aviation group, and a reactive division. The Collective Rapid Reaction Force (CRRF) is a contingent of about 20,000 people. All countries that are members of the alliance contribute. The CRRF also includes the Special Forces of the Ministries of Internal Affairs, National Security Services, Emergency Relieve Forces and Special Forces of anti-drug agencies. The CRRF are to be deployed in the conflict zones, conduct special operations including counter-terrorist ones and against organized crime, as well as in the case of emergencies. In the Central Asian zone of responsibility, there are two battalions from Kazakhstan and three from Russia, while the other the CSTO countries deploy one battalion each. The total number of troops is about four thousand. The air force is deployed at Russian airbase in Kant in Kyrgyzstan.

- A&F: Let's talk about training. I remember how frustrating it was to hear the news that the cadets from Kazakhstan sent to study to Russia were enrolled to the foreign departments together with those from Asian and African countries while the Russians and Belarusian cadets studied together following their own curriculum.

- This situation remains the same as it is the matter of state secrets in the Russian army. However, gradually it became less sensitive because Kazakhstan now successfully trains its own cadres in most specialties. This year, for example, "battlefield medicine management" has been introduced into the curriculum.

- A&F: The focus is on military-technical cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan, isn’t it?

- It is. As a career officer, namely  Colonel-General Saken Zhasuzakov, was appointed the Minister of Defense, the contacts became even more dynamic. Lieutenant-General Murat Maykeev and Major-General Talgat Zhanzhumeno are the Deputy Defense Ministers; all are known as highly qualified, authoritative military leaders. Kazakhstan has been very proactive in the bilateral cooperation. Its proposals are accepted and implemented: for example the establishment of the Military Committee within the CSTO.

- A&F: Can we take it as a Joint Stuff?

- Not exactly, it is a standing committee that prepares drafts of important matters for consideration by the Council of Defense Ministers. Another example of Kazakhstan role in the Organization evolution is that Astana initiated the aviation component and overall support forces to compliment the land troops and the its initiative was supported and implemented. The latter are communication, intelligence, electronic, engineering, logistics and other units, even the experts in information and cybersecurity. Last year, at the October session, the Heads of the CSTO States expanded the Joint Staff’s powers so that they are to defense against military threats in the organization's area of ​​responsibility not only during the peacetime but in the case of the military conflict.

- A&F: Some experts express concerns that Kazakhstan may be involved in Russia’s military operations in Syria as its ally.

- Yes, for example, some media alleged that the possible involvement of Kazakh and Kyrgyz units is being negotiated to monitor the ceasefire in Syria all backed by the statements of a number of anonymous Russian parliament members. All these stirred vigorous debates in the media among various “armchair generals” although there was a clear statement of our Foreign Ministry. For Russia, what is important is our political support, not military one. It seems to me that Russia is interested that Kazakhstan and its other CSTO allies avoid the Western sanctions as it creates more room for maneuver. 

 

Interviewed by Yuri KIRINITSINOV