With the deployment of troops from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) to Kazakhstan on Thursday, some heard “eerie echoes” of the so-called Prague spring of 1968, and the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian revolution in 1956.
Meant as a mutual defence pact, the CSTO has not made any joint deployments since its founding in 1999. Now it has been called upon to quell internal unrest in one of its member states.
Kazakhstan’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, claimed the revolt was inspired by foreign-backed “terrorists” to justify his appeal, but the call to the CSTO suggests he no longer felt he could trust his own forces. When Tokayev’s request came, the CSTO jumped into action in a matter of hours, and on Thursday morning Russian paratroopers were already arriving in Kazakhstan.